May 31, 2024

Zoo Red Panda Mascot Name Revealed

Pittsburgh, Say Hello to a Real Gem of a Red Panda: Ruby!

 

The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium’s new red panda mascot has a name – and it is a real gem! Following a naming contest with nearly 300 imaginative participants, the crimson critter will be dubbed Ruby!

The name of a precious stone is highly appropriate for one of the crown jewels among the Zoo’s animal residents. In the Himalayas, rubies are only found in isolated locations, high altitudes, and harsh seasonal weather conditions. Red pandas share this preference for the Himalayan habitat and specific conditions.

The name Ruby was a top suggestion in the contest, which raised nearly $900 for red panda conservation. Proceeds from the contest benefit the Association of Zoo and Aquarium’s SAFE Red Panda program, which coordinates conservation efforts with zoos across the country.

The red panda is an endangered species with as few as 2,500 left in the high altitude temperate forests of Nepal, India, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar. The animals’ diet is nearly 99% bamboo, and they only thrive in a narrow ecological niche – steep forest slopes with dense bamboo cover near water sources. Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation further limit this, as many bamboo species are also vulnerable to climate change.

Pittsburgh Zoo fans will have the opportunity to meet Ruby and her sparkling personality on future visits, as well as say hello to our living gems, resident red pandas Xia and Marcy, who make their home in the Forest Passage area.