TWO tiny red panda cubs have arrived at their new home after making the 600-mile journey from Dalton zoo.

Earlier this week Nila and Reva left their parents Tink and Pan to head off to Parc Merveilleux in Luxembourg as part of an international breeding programme to protect the endangered species.

Staff at the zoo were sad to see the cubs leave but are proud to be part of a global campaign to save the species from extinction and said they "hope to hear the pitter patter of tiny paws again in the future".

The zoo's resident red pandas, Tink and Pan, have also been given the 'official' go ahead to breed again.

Bosses at the Luxembourg zoo, where Nila and Reva now call their home, have sent updates and photos of them setting in.

Dalton zoo said in a Facebook update: "Residing naturally in the Himalayas, rapid human population growth and increases in farming has resulted in large scale deforestation and habitat degradation, fragmenting the areas in which the red panda can live.

"In turn this reduces natural food sources and breeding opportunities, threatening species survival.

"Like many other species, Red Pandas are poached for their pelts, furs and body parts deemed to hold medicinal properties.

"A rise in demand to keep as pets or as attractions has resulted in increased capture by wildlife traffickers for the illegal pet trade."

As few as 2,500 Red Pandas remain in the wild. That represents a 50 per cent population decline within the last 20 years.

As part of their conservation commitment, South Lakes Safari Zoo sponsor Bishal Gurung, a Red Panda forest ranger in Nepal.

"Bishal is one of 150 locals trained in anti-poaching investigation," Dalton zoo said.

"Bishal and his team patrol 309km of forests, seeking signs of traps and snares."

Incredibly, the Red Panda conservation programme directly supports 1,000 Nepalese families, through organic farming methods, ecotourism, work to restore forests and planting seedlings as a natural source of food for the species.