The first pictures of a pair of unbelievably cute red panda cubs have been released by ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. The twin baby red pandas were born on 30 June and have now ventured out of their nesting boxes to see the world.

The brothers, Bert and Ernie, were born to six-year-old Tashi who has started carrying them outside for short intervals. They are Tashi's fourth and fifth red panda cubs at Whipsnade.

"It's been magical to see the baby red pandas out and about for the first time," said senior keeper Stephen Perry. "Red pandas can be difficult to observe due to their shy and secretive nature, their nocturnal habits and the fact that they spend most of their time up trees.

"We never see much of their babies for the first couple of months of their lives but it's worth the wait. They're incredible and beautiful creatures, and a real visitor favourite. Tashi is a brilliant mum, and when the weather gets warmer you sometimes catch her carrying the babies between nesting boxes to find the coolest one for them."

Red pandas are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. There are thought to be around 10,000 left in the wild in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern China, but their numbers are thought to have decreased by around 40% over the last 50 years because of poaching and habitat loss.

Bert and Ernie are part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), which manages conservation and breeding programmes.

baby red panda cubs
The cubs have just left their nesting box after being born at the end of JuneZSL
baby red panda cubs
Bert and Ernie, the baby red pandas born in WhipsnadeZSL
baby red panda cubs
Red pandas are considered to be a threatened speciesZSL
baby red panda cubs
Keeper Stephen Perry said it was magical to see the cubs out and aboutZSL
baby red panda cubs
Red pandas are normally hard to observe because of their shy naturesZSL
baby red panda cubs
The cubs are the fourth and fifth born to six-year-old TashiZSL