Zoowatch: Halloween fun for sea lions and a rare glimpse of endangered red panda cub

Zookeepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo prepared a Halloween feast for the sea lion colony this week - as they prepare to say farewell to the much-loved family, who will soon leave for their new home at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

Images taken by zookeeper Shane Belson show youngsters Hanno, Moui and Oakley along with Lara and Bailey - who recently featured in the ITV documentary, London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year - enjoying creepy carved pumpkins filled with tasty fish to mark Halloween.

“A pumpkin filled with delicious fish might be more of a trick than a treat for some, but our sea lions certainly enjoyed their festive feast,” said Shane. “The whole family are very inquisitive and like to explore new things - especially when that new thing is accompanied by keepers carrying their favourite food!”

Shane added: “After 13 years at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, our family of six are off to a fantastic new home – while we’re sad to see them go, we’d love visitors to come and help give the sea lions the send-off they deserve this half-term.”

Meanwhile five-month-old red panda cub Nilo, has popped up out of his cosy nestbox to greet his keeper Grant Timberlake.

Growing fast, the cub was around the size of a human finger when he was born but is now the size of a small cat. Nilo, which means blue in Nepalese, can be spotted testing out his climbing skills across his enclosure with mum, Tashi, keeping a close eye on the youngster.

Born in June 2020, the cub is part of a vital international conservation breeding programme to boost the declining population of this species.

Up until this Sunday (November 1), families are invited to take Wizard Wolfgang’s Tricky Trail, a self-guided walk following magical clues across a 600-acre nature haven. Visitors can enjoy their day on foot or by car, visiting the zoo’s resident animals along the way. Book tickets at zsl.org 

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