The Oklahoma City Zoo's newest addition might not be able to dunk or hit a 3-pointer, but she's got something in common with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
KayDee was born June 6, the night the Thunder won the NBA's Western Conference Championship. She is named after Kevin Durant, the team's most popular player.
KayDee was introduced to the public last week.
Keeper Chrislyn Newton is a big Thunder fan and bestowed the name on KayDee.
“Because she was born that night, I thought it was appropriate we honor the Thunder by giving her that name,” Newton said.
The zoo has three red pandas including KayDee's parents, Yoda and Jaya. Red pandas are not related to the popular giant pandas, but are more closely related to weasels and skunks, Newton said.
They are considered a vulnerable species, found mostly in China and Nepal. They favor forested areas, but their numbers have been declining.
“Their mode of transportation is through trees,” Newton said. “Deforestation has created pockets of trees that make it hard for them to move. They don't particularly like being on the ground.”
Newton said KayDee is doing well. She weighed just 108 grams at birth, but has now grown to four pounds. When fully grown, red pandas are about the size of a typical house cat.
Despite her initial success, KayDee still faces obstacles in life. Red pandas have a high mortality rate.
“Complications can include the mother not producing enough milk because they are easily stressed,” she said. “Ringworm can be carried in the mouth of the mother and that can be fatal. They can develop pneumonia. We have to be very careful to pick up on any changes in her habits.”
The sixth-month mark will be a critical milestone for KayDee because of changes in diet.
“That's another time when we see a spike in mortality rate,” Newton said. “It's difficult for them to get off milk and start eating solids. Moms do it cold turkey, and they to figure it out fast.”
Still, zoo staff are optimistic based on past results. At two weeks, KayDee was as heavy as she should have been at five weeks.
“She's done everything with flying colors,” Newton said. “We feel pretty good about her getting through these stages of life.”