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Red panda makes thunderous debut at Oklahoma City Zoo

KayDee, a four-month-old red panda, was born the night the Oklahoma City Thunder won the Western Conference Championship, and she was named in honor of Kevin Durant.
by Matt Patterson Published: October 1, 2012

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.

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by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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