NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — New Bedford's Buttonwood Park Zoo officially supports international Red Panda conservation initiatives.

Buttonwood Park Zoo's red panda family are among some of the most charismatic, adorable and beloved animals in New Bedford.

They also work overtime as ambassadors to their species, inspiring the New Bedford community to care about red panda conservation efforts in the wild.

The zoo has again been recognized as a Reforestation Sponsor of the Red Panda Network with its recent $5,000 donation.

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In 2019, Buttonwood Park Zoo unveiled its first-ever red panda habitat. Since then, the zoo has donated $17,000 to the Red Panda Network.

"Resident red pandas Jacob, Marie, and their cubs serve as ambassadors for their species," the zoo said. "Together, we will continue to inspire our guests and work to protect wildlife and wild places."

Courtesy of Buttonwood Park Zoo
Courtesy of Buttonwood Park Zoo

The donation was made in honor of International Red Panda Day on September 17, 2023. A day of celebration and education-inspired guests donated an impressive $500, contributing to the zoo's 2023 Reforestation Sponsorship.

Founded in 2007, the Red Panda Network has become a world leader in efforts to save red pandas and their habitat. It uses an integrated, landscape-level approach to conservation built on local communities' support and participation. Its conservation programs extend to over one million acres of forest and 50 percent of Nepal's red panda range.

The Buttonwood Park Zoo has contributed $10,000 over the last two years, helping to protect five acres of critical red panda habitat through purchasing, growing and planting trees.

The sponsorship also supports the salary of one local land steward in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor in eastern Nepal, a critical location for red panda conservation that has been heavily fragmented and degraded by deforestation. It also provides alternative and sustainable income opportunities for local families.

With the zoo's continued support, the Red Panda Network will be able to establish a bio-bridge that connects the Community Forest on the Nepal side with the protected areas in India.

"BPZOO is proud to be part of a community that shares our deep commitment to conservation," said Gary Lunsford, Director of Zoological Services.

"It is through this shared value that we have again been recognized as a conservation partner to vital organizations like the Red Panda Network," he said. "I cannot thank our community enough for their efforts in making this happen."

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