Red pandas are coming to Asheville with the opening of an exhibit featuring Leafa and Phoenix at the WNC Nature Center on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.
The pandas arrived in November, have passed the required quarantine period and are being slowly introduced to their new habitat.
“We want them to have plenty of time to acclimate to their new surroundings, so the next couple of months will be a time for settling in out of view of the public,” said Nature Center Animal Curator Erin Oldread.
The pandas are the first species to be introduced as part of the Nature Center’s new Prehistoric Appalachian project. Red pandas are currently endangered with several thousand remaining in the wild — Leafa and Pheonix are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Program.
The exhibit will have a soft opening in early February before the Feb. 14 opening, with donors giving $250 allowed two tickets and $1,000 allowing four tickets.