Wildlife Safari Village visitors can purchase the opportunity to hand feed the newest residents, red pandas named Freddie and Remi.

During the encounter, the pandas enjoy their bamboo snack as they playfully climb the fence to get it. These encounters are at 9:30 a.m. and are booked two weeks ahead. Wildlife Safari Village Supervisor Sara Healas said, “We started advertising this encounter to help raise awareness to them being in the Village.”

The red pandas, who arrived on June 1 are adjusting well to Wildlife Safari, according to Healas. Healas said they are from the cooler climate of the Himalayas and have adapted really well to our warmer weather.

“We completely renovated the old bald eagle habitat for them,” Healas said. “We added new perching made of bamboo poles, added a double nest box with an AC unit, and planted grass and other plants for them.”

Freddie and Remi are happy in their new home. “We feed them twice daily, provide lots of enrichment, and have recently started training with them,” Healas said. “We installed a mister system in the front of their habitat to help cool off the ambient air temperature in their habitat too since red pandas like the cooler weather.”

The AC is turned on in their nest boxes when the weather is above 70 degreest.

Healas said, “We often find them sleeping near the mist to help them stay cool.” On extra hot days, they are given frozen treats to help beat the heat.

Freddie and Remi are twin brothers, so it is hard to tell them apart. Yet, they have distinctive personalities. Remi likes to be the star of the show. He gravitates towards the front while Freddie remains near the back. Freddie is a little shy, but they are both so enjoyable to see.

The red pandas are not the only encounters available. Healas said, “We offer encounters with giraffes, elephants, lions, tigers, cougar/maned wolf, and cheetahs. We are currently offering 13 encounters a day total with nine different types. These numbers change seasonally.”

There are many reasons why Wildlife Safari has animal encounters. Healas said, “We do them to not only showcase the training that the keepers do with the animals to help take better care of them but also to educate guests about conservation and why these animals are important.”

Healas says a portion of the encounter fee goes to various local and global conservation projects. This year’s projects are Cheetah Conservation Botswana, International Elephant Foundation, Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Umpqua Audubon Society, and the Red Panda Network.

Wildlife Safari was not negatively affected by COVID-19.

“Since we are a unique facility with a drive-thru, we were able to keep the drive-thru open throughout all of it. It gave people a chance to get out of their homes while remaining safely in their vehicles to see the animals. Eventually, we even adapted to having an outdoor gift shop and snack shack,” said Healas.

If you are looking for something fun to do, this is a great way to spend your time. You can spend time with family and friends, while simultaneously helping Wildlife Safari and the animals living there.

Skylar Knox is a seventh grader at Fremont Middle School and a contributing reporter to The News-Review.

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