ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – A male red panda cub born June 22, 2012, at the Detroit Zoo can finally be seen in his habitat across from the tigers. Little Sherman was difficult to spot in the summer months due to all the leaves in his wooded surroundings.

Sherman’s father, Chewbacca – nicknamed Chewy – is 6-years-old and arrived at the zoo in January as a mate for 7-year-old Ta-Shi. The pairing was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, a cooperative management plan to ensure genetically healthy, diverse and self-sustaining populations of threatened and endangered species.

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“Chewy and Ta-Shi wasted no time getting to know each other, and the resulting birth represents the continued success of our breeding program for this threatened species,” Robert Lessnau, Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals, said in a release.

Sherman and his mom, Ta-Shi. (Credit: Patti Woods Truesdell/Detroit Zoo)

The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a shy and solitary animal, except when mating. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a bear but rather belongs to its own family. It is about the size of a house cat, with rust-colored fur and an 18-inch ringed tail.

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Red pandas are skilled and agile climbers, spending most of their time hanging from tree branches or lounging on limbs. They are most active in the early morning and evening hours.

Found in the mountainous regions of Nepal, Myanmar and central China, red pandas are classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species due to deforestation.

Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic habitats, the Detroit Zoo is located at the intersection of 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, just off I-696, in Royal Oak. The Detroit Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March. Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61, $12 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $9 for children 2 to 14 (children under 2 are free).

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