News & Politics

Let Us Now Appreciate the Smithsonian’s New Red Panda Cub

LOOK AT THIS LITTLE PUFFBALL. (Photograph by Jessica Kordell/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.)

As of June 12, there’s a new red panda cub at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal. The cub was born to Moonlight, who you can see snacking on apples and grapes in this video and who in 2017 gave birth to Starlight, who now lives in Rochester, New York. Let’s look at another picture of the new cub being weighed.

The cub being weighed on June 19. (Photograph by Jessica Kordell/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.)

Red pandas are an endangered species, and this cub—keepers do not yet know its sex—will stay with Moonlight until it’s at least a year old. Red pandas are also frequent stars of local news coverage, thanks in great part to the efforts of Rusty, a red panda who captivated this town with a daring overnight escape in 2013. He later moved out to Front Royal. Rusty is still alive, zoo spokesperson Devon Murphy tells Washingtonian, though this cub is no relation—Rusty was not recommended to breed this year. Another red panda, Sunny, escaped from the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk in 2017 and has never been found; the animal has since passed into local legend.

Murphy says it’s too early to know where this cub may end up–we can always hope for another one of these magnificent animals in DC—but that two red pandas, Jackie and Asa, are currently at the zoo, and there’s nothing stopping you from seeing them now.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.