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Red panda Roshani visits Melbourne Zoo vet

June 23, 2021 6:30PM Kids News

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Roshani the red panda is back enjoying life at Melbourne Zoo after a thorough health check by vets. Picture: Zoos Victoria media_cameraRoshani the red panda is back enjoying life at Melbourne Zoo after a thorough health check by vets. Picture: Zoos Victoria

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Health checks are an important part of life, especially as we get older. And the same can be said for Melbourne Zoo’s red panda great-grandmother, Roshani.

At 13 years old, Roshani is considered geriatric*, but she remains quite active, spending most of her days high up in the trees of her zoo habitat.

Melbourne Zoo carnivores* keeper Craig Williams said a full health check by the zoo’s vet team showed Roshani had some general signs of ageing, but was maintaining a good weight for an older animal.

“The health check went well,” Mr Williams said. “Roshani has some mild arthritis* in her wrists, and her teeth are a bit worn, but nothing we wouldn’t expect to see in a red panda her age.”

media_cameraRoshani enjoys a healthy snack after her check-up at Melbourne Zoo. Picture: Zoos Victoria

As part of the health check, vets conducted blood and urine tests on Roshani, as well as a full dental assessment.

“In older red pandas, like Roshani, we are checking for things like dental wear because red pandas use their teeth a lot, eating bamboo,” Mr Williams said.

“So, we’re just making sure her teeth are in good condition, and also checking her body condition for things like arthritis that older animals get.”

Roshani the red panda at Melbourne Zoo

Roshani lives at the zoo with her younger companion, Seba, who is 10.

“Seba’s a bit more outgoing than Roshani, who can be quite shy and reserved,” said Mr Williams.

Together Roshani and Seba spend most of their time eating bamboo and sleeping high up in the trees.

“Generally, red pandas are up first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening,” Mr Williams said.

“They spend a lot of time browsing* on bamboo that we grow ourselves here at Melbourne Zoo.”

Red pandas are native to the Himalayas, a great mountain range in Asia, but their endearing* facial features, gentle nature, reddish-brown fur and long, fluffy tail make them popular around the world.

They live for about eight years in the wild and up to 15 years in zoos.

media_cameraRed pandas like Roshani are loved around the world because of their cute face, reddish-brown fur and long, fluffy tail. Picture: Zoos Victoria

The species is classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Their population is declining in the wild, with habitat destruction and hunting a continuing threat.

Melbourne Zoo participates in a worldwide red panda breeding program with the purpose of providing a population as insurance* against severe declines in the wild.

Although Roshani is now too old to breed, she has a legacy* of three children, seven grand-cubs and 11 great-grand-cubs across Australasia.

GLOSSARY

  • geriatric: old
  • carnivores: meat eaters
  • arthritis: a disease causing painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints
  • browsing: feeding on vegetation
  • endearing: causing the feeling of fondness or affection
  • insurance: provide protection against something happening
  • legacy: something that results from or is left because of past actions

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. How old is Roshani?
  2. Red pandas sometimes eat insects and small lizards, but what plant do they mainly eat?
  3. What is the name of Roshani’s companion at Melbourne Zoo?
  4. Which great mountain range are red pandas native to?
  5. What classification has the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List given to red pandas?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Write a Diary Entry
Imagine that you are Roshani. Write a diary entry for the day that you had your medical check-up.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science

2. Extension
“Red Pandas should live in the wild, not in zoos.” What do you think about this statement? Write a piece of persuasive writing that gives your opinion on this topic.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
Wild Vs Captivity
The article states that Red Pandas live about 8 years in the wild and 15 years in captivity.

With a partner, discuss why there is such a significant difference in lifespan.

Then make a list of all the pros and cons for the animals in relation to Wild Vs Captivity.

Imagine you are a Red Panda, which way would you prefer to live and why?

Write a paragraph to share your thoughts with the class.

Use your VCOP skills to make the paragraph engaging and interesting for the audience.

Extra Reading in animals