The zoo's previous pair of red pandas, Shama and Rusty, were transferred to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) two years ago this month, so they could breed. The couple did produce three cubs in June 2014, but, sadly, Shama died soon after they were born.
Rusty, however, is "thriving" at the SCBI, according to zoo staff. The clever male made a name for himself in June 2013 when he staged a very public, and Internet-viral, escape to the streets of D.C.
National Zoo Finds ‘Rusty,' Missing Red Panda
While Tusa and Asa will call D.C. home, their species - listed as endangered on the IUCN's "red list" of threatened species, with fewer than 10,000 thought to remain in the wild - is native to Nepal, China, Bhutan and India. SCBI has long studied the adorable animals.
"We've made a commitment to study red pandas," said curator Steve Sarro in a release, "and we hope that they inspire the public to help us conserve this endangered species and their habitat for many generations to come."