Red Pandas 4: Cini

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Cini is one of the two red panda female cubs born to Stella Luna and Sumo in July of 2014. Here is a photo of the two cubs and the mother:

Stella, the mother, is the red panda on the far left. Cini is the red panda on the far right. In the middle is Masala.

Here’s a photo of the two sisters:

Cini is the red panda on the left. Cini is a very adventuresome, curious, aggressive, often fearless red panda. Unlike her sisters Mohu and Masala, Cini will eat out of the hands of the zoo keepers. And she’s not a bit afraid of Sumo, her father. Sumo will usually tolerate the red panda cubs, but he gets annoyed if they get into his space. If he’s strolling along a branch and one of the cubs is in his way, he’ll try to knock her off. He once did that to Mohu and she almost fell. After that incident, Mohu was terrified of her father, and if she saw him coming she would run in the opposite direction. Masala is wary of Sumo; if she sees him around, she will keep on her guard. But Cini has, from nearly the start of her adventures away from her mother, taken a more adversarial stance toward her father. She will not let him bully her. And this could be seen fairly early on. One time, when she was only a little over five months of age, Cini went out of her way to block Sumo’s path. Sumo had gone into one of the huts to eat. Cini placed herself at the door to the hut, preventing Sumo from leaving. When Sumo refused to challenge her, she stepped out of the threshold of the hut and placed herself on a nearby branch. Sumo came out and headed straight at Cini. Again she was blocking his path. He stopped a moment, to give Cini a chance to think better of what she was doing. She refused to budge. So with his forepaw he reached out to knock her out of the way. She dodged his blow by swinging herself under the branch. Sumo’s blow came up empty, but his momentum nearly carried him off branch, and he wound up almost falling to the ground. Indeed, for a few moments, he was hanging on by the branch by little more than his forepaws.

Fast forward five or six weeks later. Sumo and Cini were snacking on some bamboo leaves. Cini got too close to Mohu and he attacked her. This time she fell all the way to the ground from about six or seven feet of height. She got up and ran into one of the dens. Then she came out and returned to eat at a separate location from her father. A half an hour later she spotted her father hanging out on top of one of the huts. If she wanted to continue down the branch, she would be walking right past him. Wouldn’t it make sense to avoid him altogether and take a different path? Here she is pondering her choice:

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She decided to go down the branch. Sumo stepped out to block her path. Cini approached her father and, assuming a sitting position, stared straight into her father’s eyes for several minutes:

After a couple of minutes, Cini turned around and dashed off. Sumo gave her a bit of head start and then chased after her for a few yards before giving up and returning to the top of the hut. This may have been the last time Sumo got the better of Cini. For a few weeks later Cini was pushing her old man around — literally. The arm of the zoo keeper is blocking the view to a certain extent, but in the following image we see Sumo on the left, Stella on the right (getting fed apples by the zoo keeper), and Cini in the middle, giving her old man a good push. Sumo is leaning into the push so as not to fall:

And her Cini has her claws poised on Sumo’s throat:

A few weeks after that I saw Sini passing nearby Sumo on an adjoining branch. Sumo, getting a little annoyed at having his space once again invaded by the cub, hissed and swiped at Cini. And what did Cini do? She hissed and swiped back — and with an intensity that shocked Sumo. He let her pass unmolested. All this goes to prove that Cini, unlike the other two cubs, is not in the least afraid of Sumo. Indeed, it’s not clear at this point what Cini might or might not be afraid of. She’s the alpha female among the red pandas at the Sequoia Park Zoo.

Cini is also quite a curious critter. Once she noticed a little boy at the window into the exhibit. She came up and stared at him for nearly 30 seconds, obviously utterly fascinated, although for reasons unknown to any other creature:

Cini came out of the den relatively late — or at least later than Mohu, her sister from another litter. I first saw her when she was almost three months old when she came out to get a drink of water with her mother. Already here she showed her tendency toward fearlessness, and she was obviously more comfortable coming outside than her sister, Masala:

And a few weeks later, she came out to drink with her mother and sister:

And to explore on her own:

Cini can be a bit of a momma’s girl — although that’s bound to change as she gets older. Here are some snaps with her mother. First, her mother whispering into her daugher’s ear:

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Eating with her mother:

A failed attempt of a portrait of Cini with her mother:

And a successful portrait:

More snaps showing the variety of expressions Cini is capable of exhibiting:

Here’s a video of Cini begging and climbing around the exhibit:

And one last full body portrait, including the all important tail:

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