A RED panda couple have been paired at Scotland’s largest zoo following an eight-year absence.
But despite today being Valentine’s Day, the endangered pair were kept apart in separate enclosures.
Male red panda Bruce has been living in a temporary home at Edinburgh Zoo for the past year but the female Ginger only arrived from The Netherlands on Sunday.
They are currently within touching distance of each other but will only be brought closer together once they have adjusted to their new surroundings.
The pairing of the two red pandas is incredibly important as the species was recently reclassified from endangered to vulnerable.
Red pandas are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and their global population is estimated to be lower than 10,000 individuals.
Darren McGarry, head of living collections at Edinburgh Zoo said: “We are delighted to have red pandas back at the zoo and it’s wonderful that Ginger arrived just in time for Valentine’s Day.
“Not only will it be great for visitors to see them again, but the new couple will help play a vital role in the conservation of this increasingly threatened species.
“Through the European Endangered Species Programme we hope to breed Bruce and Ginger, creating a safety-net population which will ensure they do not become extinct in the wild.
“We’ve already seen how conservation efforts have helped increase the giant panda population, so we hope to be able to do the same for other species such as the red panda.”
Red pandas are slightly larger than the average domestic cat but with a body similar to a bear.
Despite their name, they are not related to giant pandas.
Typically they can be found in mountains and high-altitude forests in countries such as Nepal, Myanmar and China.
The population of red pandas worldwide continues to decline as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as poaching and accidental trapping.