Philadelphia Zoo Announces Names of Red Panda Cubs

Philadelphia, PA – (November 27, 2015) – Philadelphia Zoo is pleased to announce that the names of its new red panda cubs are Benjamin and Betsy. The panda cubs were born at the Zoo overnight on June 26th and debuted to the public on Thursday, November 18th. One male and one female cub were born to parents Basil and Spark, two of the Zoo’s 5-year-old red pandas and are currently living in the Zoo’s Carnivore Kingdom exhibit at the Zoo.

The Zoo encouraged members, visitors and social media followers to submit names for the pair and the response was overwhelming-- thousands of entries were submitted. Zoo staff then complied a short list and again asked for help in voting for names. More than 40,000 votes were recorded and Betsey and Benjamin were the winners with an extraordinary 17,000 votes.

“We are thrilled that so many people participated in naming our new panda cubs,” says Kevin Murphy, General Curator. “There were some really great submissions and paring down the list wasn’t easy but we are happy with the end result. This was a great way to build excitement as well as welcome these two important cubs to the Philadelphia Zoo.”

The names pay homage to two of the region’s foremost figures, Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin. Ross, a Philadelphia native and prominent national figure is widely credited with the first making of the American flag. Franklin, one of our nation’s Founding Fathers and an individual synonymous with Philadelphia, is known for his many contributions to science, politics, and literature and as the 6th President of Pennsylvania.

“The birth is important in the Zoo’s efforts in red panda conservation. We work with the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose goal is to manage populations of threatened, endangered and other species across AZA zoos, to maintain long-term genetic and demographic viability. This birth marks an important step towards the plan,” says Murphy.

Red pandas are found in the Himalayans, but have been classified as vulnerable, due to habitat loss, fragmentation, poaching and climate change.

Mother and cubs are doing very well. Spark, an excellent mother, is tending to the cubs and they are very active. The cubs are nursing from Spark as well as eating on their own. Their diet consists of fresh bamboo, as well as small amounts of grapes, apples and biscuits formulated for red pandas. Keepers continue to observe the cubs and their mother, while providing as much privacy as possible. Eventually these cubs will move to other institutions for breeding.

A way to show your support to Philadelphia Zoo is by contributing to the ADOPT program. Those who adopt a red panda by December 31st will get a free mini red panda plush. To ADOPT a red panda, visit


America's first zoo and one of the region's foremost conservation organizations, the Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. By connecting people with wildlife, the Philadelphia Zoo creates joyful discovery and inspires action for animals and habitats. The Philadelphia region’s leading family destination, the Zoo welcomed more than 1.3 million visitors last year. The Philadelphia Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. For more information on the Philadelphia Zoo, as well as to purchase and print tickets online, visit us at Philadelphia Zoo is a non-smoking facility.