Panda Passion at the National Zoo

Red pandas show true meaning of Valentine's Day

He's a Jersey boy.  She grew up in D.C.

But fate brought them together at the National Zoo.

And, just in time for Valentine's Day, they found true love.

That's the story of Shama, the National Zoo's red panda, and her new mate, Tate.

Tate recently arrived in D.C. from the Cape May Zoo in New Jersey, and it seems that Shama has taken quite an interest in her new boy toy next door.

How much interest?  Let's just say that they've been spending a lot of quality time together.  The zoo paparazzi captured this photo of Washington's new power couple doing some snuggling on Friday.

The relationship isn't just a sweet love story, it's good for the species, too.  Red pandas are endangered and breed just once a year.

There may be fewer than 2,500 adult red pandas alive, according to the National Zoo, and some scientists think the red panda is even more endangered than the giant panda in China.  The Zoo's Jenny Spotten talks about the significance of Shama and Tate's recent escapades in this video.

So if you visit the zoo this week, don't get mad if there's a "do not disturb" sign on the red panda exhibit.  You'll have to agree it's a minor inconvenience and is actually for a good cause.

Send a National Zoo Valentine's e-card.  Click here.

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