WELLINGTON, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Rare red panda twins, one of Asia's most threatened species, have been born in New Zealand as part of a global management plan, Auckland Zoo announced Wednesday.
The two cubs, born on Jan. 3, each weighing about 100 grams, were the second and third offspring of a 4-year-old female and 13- year-old male that came from India's Darjeeling Zoo in 2010.
"They have now opened their eyes and are moving about in the nest box a little more, and will sometimes huff at us. Their weights have shot up to 403 grams and 423 grams respectively -- above average, so we know they're getting plenty to eat, but they still have a lot more growing to do," acting carnivore team leader Lauren Booth said in a statement.
The cubs would be sexed at around 12-weeks-old and would in time leave Auckland Zoo to contribute to the international breeding program, she said.
The number of wild red pandas was uncertain, but the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) estimated the global population to be about 10,000, with about 500 in zoos worldwide, said the statement.
Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, the red panda was threatened by illegal hunting and deforestation. Endemic to the temperate forests of the Himalayas, it ranged from Nepal in the west to China in the east.