Auckland Zoo's latest arrival is beautiful three-year-old Nepalese red panda Khela, a mate for the Zoo's young male red panda Ramesh.
Khela has just been relocated from Hamilton Zoo as part of the Australasian regional breeding programme for this endangered species, and following a month's quarantine at the Zoo's vet hospital, will be gradually introduced to Ramesh at his bachelor-pad enclosure.
Carnivore team leader Lauren Booth and her colleagues are hoping for a love match.
Says Lauren: "Khela is quietly confident and likely to be Ramesh's polar opposite. He can be quite aloof at times and off in his own little world, but they do say opposites attract!"
Red panda, a species under threat from deforestation and illegal hunting, are unusual in that they are only in season for just one to two days each year.
"While Ramesh and Khela will have likely missed this year's breeding season, it will be great to see them get to know one another over the coming year, and when August and September roll around next year, we hope they'll be ready to go! They're both genetically valuable and any offspring will be hugely valuable additions to the regional programme," says Lauren.
Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund supports of the Red Panda Network in Nepal, which is working to save the red panda in the wild and preserve habitat through education and empowering local communities. Visit www.redpandanetwork.org