Meet Pabu: Oregon Zoo panda cub has a name

October 6, 2020 - 10:42am

Hillsboro resident helps 'dub the cub' after winning zoo's name-the-baby raffle

The Oregon Zoo's red panda cub has a name!

When red panda Mei Mei gave birth to a fluffy baby this summer, keepers handed naming honors over to the Oregon Zoo Foundation, which raffled off a chance to help "dub the cub."

The winner of the raffle, Miriam Bolding of Hillsboro, met with zoo care staff via video conference last week, and together they decided on Pabu — a popular red panda–like character on Nickelodeon's animated series The Legend of Korra, and a popular name for red pandas at accredited zoos around the country.

"We had so much fun meeting with Miriam to kick around different names," said Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo's red panda area. "Pabu was the winner, and it really seems to fit the little guy. He's been growing more and more adventurous lately — we're excited for visitors to see him as he spends more time outside."

Bolding won the raffle Sept. 25, during the Oregon Zoo Foundation's Zoo Rendezvous event, which raised much needed funds to support the zoo's efforts in animal care, education and conservation.

"I have been looking for ways to support local organizations that I love who have been hit hard by the pandemic," Bolding said. "I wanted to support the Oregon Zoo so I purchased a membership and decided to buy raffle tickets to help."

Red pandas are considered an endangered species, with populations declining by about 50% in the past 20 years. While exact numbers are uncertain, some estimates indicate as few as 2,500 may be left in the wild. In addition to habitat loss and fragmentation, red pandas also face threats from poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.

"Fifty years ago, red pandas had healthy populations throughout the eastern Himalayas," Cutting said. "But they've been disappearing at alarming rates. Hopefully, we can start a new chapter in the conservation of a species that is sharply declining in the wild."

Though they share part of their name with giant pandas, red pandas are in a class all by themselves: The sharp-toothed, ring-tailed omnivores are the only members of the Ailuridae family. Found in the montane forests of the Himalayas and major mountain ranges of southwestern China (Nepal, India, Bhutan, China and Myanmar), their striking red, white and black fur provides camouflage in the shadowed nooks of the trees amongst reddish moss and white lichens.

As part of the Metro family, the Oregon Zoo helps make greater Portland a great place to call home. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Oregon silverspot butterflies, western pond turtles and northern leopard frogs.

The Oregon Zoo Foundation is leading efforts to fund critical needs of the zoo during its reduced-capacity reopening. To contribute, go to oregonzoo.org/donate. Members, donors and corporate and foundation partners help the zoo make a difference across the region and around the world.