February 14, 2019 was a red letter day for the Nature Center. The long awaited reveal of the new red panda habitat culminated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Esther Manheimer and Friends of the WNC Nature Center Board President Nora Carpenter.Leafa and Phoenix received a warm welcome that day, and a record-setting 1,800 guests visited them the following Saturday!The red pandas are the first species to be introduced to the Nature Center’s new Prehistoric Appalachia project. Skeletal remains of the red panda’s close cousin, the now extinct Bristol’s panda, were discovered at the Gray Fossil Site in Tennessee and are estimated to be 5 million years old. Red pandas are currently endangered with several thousand individuals remaining in the wild. The WNC Nature Center red pandas are part of the Species Survival Program (SSP) associated with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).You can keep showing the love to Leafa and Phoenix by purchasing red panda merchandise in the Nature Center gift shop or symbolically adopting them (wildwnc.org/adopt-an-animal).To support Leafa and Phoenix and their ongoing care at the WNC Nature Center, go to fundly.com/bringing-red-panda-to-asheville.
Guests visiting the WNC Nature Center this spring and summer have seen an influx of new animals! Over the past six months,