A ZOO has welcomed the return of endangered red pandas.

Endangered red panda Nilo is settling in to his newly created habitat at Bristol Zoo Project after arriving from ZSL’s Whipsnade in Bedfordshire. 

He’s already been exploring his new territory, which has been tailor-made to the needs of red pandas.

It has a large cedar tree sitting at the centre, providing plenty of climbing opportunities.

As well as proving to be a hit with staff and visitors, three-year-old Nilo also has a vital role to play in the future of red pandas globally, as he is part of a crucial European breeding programme.

Red pandas are native to the Himalayan Mountain range through Nepal, India and China, where they are under threat from habitat loss and poaching. 

Researchers believe their population has declined by 40 per cent over the last 50 years, and it’s thought there are only 2,500 left in the wild.

Gazette Series: Bristol Zoo Project / SWNS

Gazette Series: Bristol Zoo Project / SWNS

Bristol Zoo Project is owned and run by conservation and education charity Bristol Zoological Society, which is part of efforts to protect and conserve the Endangered species.

Will Walker, Curator of Mammals at Bristol Zoo Project, said: “We are very excited to have Nilo here with us at Bristol Zoo Project. 

''He has settled in really well so far and has enjoyed exploring his new habitat.

"We are thrilled to bring the species back to Bristol and the South West for visitors to enjoy and observe.

“Red pandas are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk.

"Their red or orange-brown coat, white markings on their face, and bushy tails with red and buff ring patterns, serve as a camouflage within their natural habitat amongst red moss and white lichen-covered trees. 

''They also have what’s often described as an extra thumb, which is an enlarged, modified wrist bone which they put to good use to climb trees and grab bamboo stems.”

Nilo, whose name means blue in Nepalese, travelled 135 miles from ZSL’s Whipsnade Zoo to his brand-new habitat. 

He was born at Whipsnade in 2020, to mother Tashi and father Blue, as part of the European Ex-situ Programme (EEP) a conservation breeding programme.

Bristol Zoo Project is located near Junction 17 of the M5 near Cribbs Causeway in South Gloucestershire.