Stealing hearts: New red panda named Bandit to make debut at Henry Vilas Zoo

MADISON, Wis. — The Henry Vilas Zoo has a new red panda, and he’s ready to steal hearts!

The zoo announced Wednesday that two-year-old Bandit arrived from the Columbus Zoo last month and finished his health checks. He and the zoo’s female red panda, Tai, have also been introduced and will live in the Children’s Zoo area by the goat yard.

Visitors will be able to see Bandit starting Thursday.

“Bandit is already showing his inquisitive personality,” zoo director Ronda Schwetz said in a news release. “He is very curious and loves to climb and explore. It was rough on all of us when we lost Tarrei, so we are all very excited to have a young red panda back at the Zoo.”

Tarrei, who died in December at age 19, was Bandit’s maternal great-grandfather. Bandit’s paternal great-grandfather, Lum, came to the Henry Vilas Zoo in 2012.

Fewer than 2,500 adult red pandas are believed to live in the wild worldwide, the release said.