Gangtok: Three cubs have been born in captivity to Red Pandas, the state animal of Sikkim, at Himalayan Zoological Park here taking the total of the arboreal mammals to an impressive eleven.
Another female Red Panda is pregnant and is expected to give birth soon, zoo authorities said.
The three cubs were born on June 3 and June 20, Himalayan Zoological Park additional director Gut Lepcha said.
The Red Panda figures in Schedule One of the Wildlife Protection Act because of its dwindling population both in the wild and in captivity.
He said that captive breeding had started with a pair of Red Pandas in 1999. Later two more Red Pandas rescued from the wild had joined the captive breeding programme.
"We are having good results of late. Last year two cubs were born," Lepcha said.
"We also exchanged Red Pandas with the Darjeeling Zoological Park to prevent in-breeding," he said.
"Our zoo will have to take the initiative for the breeding programme for these mammals while the Darjeeling Zoological Park will be the participating zoo, said Lepcha.
"We have already submitted a master plan for the Himalayan Zoological Park to the Central Zoo Authority to develop breeding centres, other facilities and infrastructure costing around Rs. 29 crore last year," said Lepcha.
He said that eight percent of the project components have received clearance from the Central Zoo Authority.
The Red Pandas at the Himalayan Zoological Park live in three separate enclosures. Earlier they were kept in a single 1440 square metre enclosure.
"We will develop two more enclosures," said the additional director.
The Himalayan Zoological Park has also been designated by the Central Zoo Authority as the coordinating zoo for captive breeding of three Himalayan wildlife species, -- Blood Pheasant, the State Bird of Sikkim, Himalayan Tahr and Blue Sheep, all of which were endangered, said Lepcha.
The Himalayan Zoological Park is located at an altitude of 5840 ft spread over 230 hectare of mountainous land with terrain suitable for high altitude animals and birds.
It at present has 52 different species of birds and animals like Red Panda and Tibetan Wolf.