Edmonton, Canada, June 29, 2007
—A pair of newborn red panda
cubs pose for the cameras on Friday in the hands of animal health worker Sandy Helliker at the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
The rare babies set the zoological community on fire when they were born at the zoo on June 26, because red pandas—classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union—have been notoriously hard to raise in captivity.
In the wild fewer than 2,500 red pandas survive, and the animals live in increasingly fragmented forests in the Himalayas in Nepal, Myanmar (Burma), and China.
To help ensure the cubs live past their critical first 30 days, Helliker will hand-raise the newborn pandas—feeding and even grooming them around the clock.
"I don't change their diapers, but I still have to do what mom would do to stimulate them to go to the bathroom," Helliker told the Edmonton Journal. "Mom would lick them, but I do it manually with my fingers."
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Photograph by John Ulan/CP/AP