Rusty the red panda, perhaps the most famous animal in DC not on the current cover of our magazine, is a new dad. The National Zoo announced Wednesday that Rusty and his female companion Shama have given birth to a litter of three cubs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal. The cubs “appear healthy,” says the zoo, and are being monitored closely. This is the first litter for Rusty; Shama has successfully bred at the zoo before.
Rusty gained infamy last summer when he briefly escaped from his habitat and went for a jaunt around Adams Morgan. He and Shama were moved to the Front Royal facility in January to encourage breeding, as zookeepers worried increased foot traffic from visitors clamoring to catch a glimpse of giant panda cub Bao Bao might upset them. SCBI is currently home to four pairs of red pandas, all of which have successfully given birth this year, for a total of seven surviving cubs. There’s no date planned yet for when Rusty and Shama will be moved back to DC, so for now this video will have to fulfill the cuteness quota.