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DC zoo sends 2 red pandas to Virginia for breeding

Thursday - 1/30/2014, 6:43pm  ET

redpanda_zoo.jpg
A red panda plays in the snow at the Smithsonian National Zoo on Jan. 21, 2014. (National Zoo/Abby Wood)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Zoo has moved its red pandas, including one that escaped last year, to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia for breeding.

The zoo said Thursday that the increase in visitor traffic at the nearby giant panda exhibit could disrupt the chances of successful breeding for the red pandas. Animal keepers say the red pandas named Rusty and Shama are adjusting well to their new surroundings in Front Royal, Va.

The male red panda, Rusty, escaped the zoo's enclosure last summer and was found wandering through a residential neighborhood in Washington. An investigation found Rusty likely climbed out through the trees in his exhibit.

The zoo says it's planning to bring one or two new non-breeding red pandas to the Asia Trail exhibit this year.


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