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Catch up with the latest news at LRZ with articles, press releases, and other fun updates

written and created by Zoo Staff.

Help Name the Red Panda Cub


Image: An inside look at panda cub and mom in their den.

The female red panda born cub on July 5th at the Lee Richardson Zoo needs your help being named!  Zoo Staff have narrowed the options down to three spice-themed options in honor of the cub’s mother; who is named “Paprika”. The options are “Cassia”, “Saffron”, and “Cayenne”, and now we’re asking for the public’s help to make the final decision.  Those who wish to cast a vote can do so by stopping in at the Safari Shoppe, the Finnup Center for Conservation Education, or by voting on the zoo’s Facebook page between now and the end of the day, Wednesday, September 13th, 2023.

Once votes are tallied, the winning name will be announced at the Zoo’s International Red Panda Day celebration, taking place on Saturday, September 16th, from 10 am to noon in Wild Asia at the red panda habitat. In addition to the name announcement, the event will have red panda-themed games and activities for zoo guests of all ages to enjoy. The name will also be shared on the zoo’s website and social media.    

                Currently, Paprika and the yet-to-be-named cub are spending time in a private den inside their habitat. This is the first cub to be born to Paprika and mate “CJ”, and the family is doing well.  Based on the timing of previous panda births at the zoo, staff believe that while mom or dad may be out to stroll periodically, the cub won't venture outside until later in the fall.  Until then, updates on the cub and family can be seen on the zoo’s website and social media pages.

                Red pandas are native to the mountains of western China and Nepal.  They are adapted to cold climates, and their diet consists mostly of bamboo.  The species is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.  They are threatened by habitat loss and disease. 

                 For more information on red pandas, visit the zoo’s website at or visit their habitat at the zoo in person (before or after casting your vote for a name). 

Popular Zoo Questions
- Kristi Newland, Zoo Director

There are some questions that regularly pop up during a visit to the zoo.  One of those is, “Where did that animal come from?”  As far as the individual animals are concerned, odds are they were either born or hatched here or at another zoo.  Only on rare occasions do animals come out of the wild anymore to populate zoos.  If the individual was born or hatched at another zoo, the rest of the answer is most likely that they were donated by or are on loan from the other facility.  Rarely do zoos purchase animals from each other.  If they do, the funds go to reimburse the birth zoo for the effort put into breeding the species or raising the individual.


There are rare occasions when zoo residents are removed from the wild.  Generally, this is done to benefit the species, such as when the last of the California condors were brought into human care so the species could be supported, reproduced, and reintroduced into the wild.


Some zoo residents are donated ex-pets.  There are species, such as some tortoises or macaws, that may outlive the person who acquires them as a pet.  Once the owner has passed, the animal needs a new home.  Other times, the pet has become more than the owner can handle, and the owner is now looking for someone who knows how to deal with the species appropriately.  This often happens with exotic animals that someone acquires as a pet. 


It’s very important to thoroughly research and make plans for any animal you are thinking of acquiring as a pet.  Dogs, cats, and other domestic animals have been a part of our lives and sharing our homes for ages.  Monkeys, apes, and wild cats (lions, bobcats, mountain lions, etc..) are not meant to live in human households.  They are wild animals with behaviors that help them survive in their world - the wild.  Rehoming an exotic animal to a zoo or sanctuary isn’t always possible as those facilities have limited space.  The ex-pet may also not behave exactly like its wild counterparts due to its years as a pet, so it may not fit in with its own species easily.  The high demand for exotic pets actually fuels the illegal capture and trade of millions of animals.  During the process, many of the animals suffer and die.  Think hard and do your research before you purchase an exotic animal as a pet.  For more information on the exotic pet trade, see


Some animals at zoos come from state or federal authorities after they have been confiscated from people who possessed them illegally or were unable to take care of them properly.   Once confiscated, these animals need to be placed at facilities that can meet the needs of the animal.


Some zoo residents are “rehab animals”.  When a wild animal is injured or wild young are orphaned, it isn’t always the end.  Sometimes, that animal goes on to have a life at a zoo or similar facility as an ambassador for its species.   


Another question some guests ask is, “Can I pet the animals?”  The residents of the zoo are here for your viewing pleasure.  Reaching through the fence or over the fence to pet a zoo resident is dangerous for both you and the animal.  While zoo residents are accustomed to people to an extent, they are not pets to be played with.  They are ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild, here to give us a peek into their world. 


During your visit to Lee Richardson Zoo, other questions may occur to you.  The graphics at each habitat can answer a number of those questions, such as what part of the world the species is native to.  The graphics also contain the species’ conservation status, what they eat in the wild, and more.  If you have a question, please ask any of the staff you encounter.  We enjoy sharing information about the animals and the zoo.  Asking questions is a wonderful way to grow.  It shows an active and engaged mind and a desire to learn.  Understanding is a big part of making a connection, and that’s what the zoo is all about.


Image: reticulated giraffe calf "Miguu" stands facing forward as
his parents "Cleo" and "Juani" stand behind him.

Critically Endangered Addax
Born at Lee Richardson Zoo

A family had a rare experience as they visited Lee Richardson Zoo on July 20, 2023.  They were the first to observe signs of the birth of a critically endangered addax.  The healthy seventeen-pound baby is the second offspring born to Penelope and Dobby.  The recommended birth was part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Addax Species Survival Plan (SSP). 

The baby was born outdoors but due to incoming severe weather and the calf’s lack of mobility so soon after birth, zoo staff brought the newborn into the barn.  The calf was given colostrum replacer due to what staff hoped would be a brief separation from mom.  While Penelope and Dobby didn’t reunite with the baby at their first opportunity, they reunited with their young after the storms passed. “The calf was born in one of the lowest parts of the addax habitat and with the risk of flooding, we knew we needed to get the calf to a safe place,” said Animal Care Curator Carrie Thurman. “Since the storm, Penelope has been doing a great job of taking care of the calf and Dobby has been sticking close by. Our staff are very excited that we now have 4 new babies at the Zoo to watch grow and thrive”.

The addax is a large antelope, native to the Sahara Desert and well adapted to the harsh desert climate.  They survive on the sparse vegetation that appears after meager rains and go for weeks to months without drinking water.  Their body temperature can increase several degrees during the heat of the day and cool at night to delay sweating and reduce water loss.  Broad hooves support their stocky body while walking on soft sand.  The species has long been threatened by poaching, severe droughts, and the hazards of living in a perpetual war zone.  The addax is the most threatened hooved mammal in the Sahara.


Image: Adult female addax Penelope nuzzles her calf as it lays
in the lawn of their habitat.

Red Panda Born at LRZ

While fireworks are not allowed to be discharged in the Lee Richardson Zoo, we do welcome firefox, more commonly known as red panda.  On the afternoon of July 5th, long after the City of Garden City’s firework show had ended, zoo staff were elated to find that “Paprika” a female red panda had given birth to her first cub. 

                Two-year-old Paprika came from the Idaho Falls Zoo to join resident male panda “CJ”.  The pair were given a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Red Panda. The program helps accredited facilities cooperatively manage populations in human care, including endangered species such as the red panda.

                Staff are monitoring the first-time parents and cub. “Paprika is being a great mom to the cub and we are so excited to watch the cub grow. We can’t wait until it becomes more active and begins to venture out of the den in the coming months” commented Brittany Whitehouse, Primary Animal Keeper in Wild Asia.  Red panda cubs are born with their eyes closed and have limited mobility. The cub will stay in or near their den with mom until about 8 – 10 weeks after birth.  Based on timing of events from previous litters born at the zoo, Animal Care staff expect Paprika and her cub to make their first outdoor appearance in late September or early October.

               In the meantime, zoo guests may catch CJ, the nearly three-year-old father spending time in the outdoor habitat. Photo and video updates of mom and cub will be shared on the zoo’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube accounts as well as on our website at


Image: A red panda cub rests next to their mother's tail inside
their den box.

Siamang Dad Names Daughter

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