By Tom Goodenough
Lily, the baby red panda, ventures cautiously out of its den for the very first time at Chester Zoo
Popping its head meekly out of its den, the baby red panda ventures forth into the wider world.
The cute cub, which closely resembles a teddy bear, stayed close to its mother as it stepped from its home at Chester Zoo.
The baby panda stayed close to the watchful eyes of its mother as it left its den
The touching scenes were captured by a British photographer who had waited patiently at the enclosure where the cub, named Lily, was born.
David Evans, 37, and his fiancee, Christine Conner, 35, witnessed the beautiful moment after visting the zoo for seven hours a day over the course of several weeks.
Their waiting paid off finally after mum Lushui carried her cub to a new den.
Mr Evans, who lives in Liverpool, said: 'My fiancee is obsessed with red pandas and I have a passion for photography, so we bought a membership to the zoo so we could see the cub grow up.
'No one had seen the cub except for the keepers and we wanted to be able to catch a first glimpse.
'For weeks on end we would sit all day outside the enclosure hoping to get a shot.
'Then one quiet day, Lushui moved Lily from one den to the other and I got her carrying and hugging her tightly.
'As the weeks went by, she started to get bigger and would pop her head out of the den looking for her mother.
'We watched her grow up from a blind cub to her first clumsy steps.'
Mother Lushui hugged her adorable cub tightly as it went out into the wider world
Red pandas, which grow to the size of a large domestic cat, are known as a living fossil because they are unrelated to any other living animal.
It seems their only resemblance to their larger namesakes is a love of sleeping and a penchant for the taste of bamboo, which forms the bulk of the red pandas' diets.
Mr Evans said in his time watching the red pandas that the quiet lifestyle they enjoy was only rarely shaken by a 'mad moment of running around'.
He said he hoped the pictures of the cute cub would help keep the endangered and vulnerable species alive for longer.
Lily has now been transferred to a new home in Norden’s Ark Zoo in Sweden.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
By Tom Goodenough