MADISON (WKOW) — The Henry Vilas Zoo welcomed an endangered red panda to their zoo Wednesday. His name is Bandit, and he is two years old.
Originally a resident of the Columbus Zoo, Bandit already had a connection to the Henry Vilas Zoo. His paternal great-grandfather Lum came to the zoo in 2012, and his maternal great grandfather Terrei passed away at the zoo last year at the age of 19.
Now that Bandit has finished his medical checks and been introduced to the zoo's female red panda, Tai, he's hit the ground running.
“Bandit is already showing his inquisitive personality,” Zoo Director Ronda Schwetz said. “He is very curious and loves to climb and explore. It was rough on all of us when we lost Tarrei, so we are all very excited to have a young red panda back at the Zoo.”
“Our red pandas are among the most popular attractions at the zoo, so we are incredibly excited to welcome Bandit and know he will be an instant family favorite,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said. “A huge thank you goes out to our staff for helping Bandit settle into his new home.”
To bring Bandit to Madison, the zoo worked with Red Panda Species Survival Program (SSP). The SSP is a breeding and conservation program with the goal of maintaining a health and genetical diverse population to grow the red panda population.
Starting on Friday July 15, both Bandit and Tai will be viewable in the Children's zoo area near the goat yard.