Bridgeport’s Beardsley Zoo is breaking ground today on a new exhibit that will become the home of Rochan, the zoo’s red panda.
Funding for the new exhibit was provided through a $75,000 challenge grant from the Werth Family Foundation that was matched with two donations from Easton residents Bob Natt, chairman of the health care technology company Alegeus, and his wife, Helen.
Rochan was not originally scheduled to become a permanent resident at the zoo – he arrived in October 2015 when his exhibit at Boston’s Franklin Zoo was undergoing renovations, but the zoos later agreed for him to stay in Connecticut. However, Rochan’s temporary home near the exit of the Beardsley Zoo’s South American Rainforest Exhibit created some confusion, because red pandas are native of the Himalayas and the mountains of southwest China.
The new exhibit will be landscaped with bamboo, the staple of Rochan’s diet – he eats approximately 20,000 bamboo leaves each day – along with treetop spots for Rochan to engage in sunbathing.