Ruby the Red Panda, the official mascot for the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018, has been unveiled today and she made her first ever appearance at the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park, which is just a few miles from Arena Birmingham, the venue for the Championships, which will be held in the city next year, from 1 to 4 March.
The park was chosen as the ideal setting for Ruby’s unveiling as it is home to three red pandas, two adults Mo and Amba and their 11 month old daughter Mambo. The Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park breeds and protects the red pandas and has done since 2005, when one of the new arrivals, Babu, famously went missing for four days, before being found and returned to his enclosure. He was later named ‘Brummie of The Year’.
1500m World Silver Medallist and Birmingham resident Hannah England said: “It is so exciting to help launch Ruby the red panda, the official mascot for the IAAF World Indoor Championships. Mascots are a great way of getting young people excited about the event and athletics events attract a family audience, so it is really important to appeal to people of all ages. Ruby is wonderful and I’m sure she is going to attract a lot of attention over the next few months.
“It is going to be a very busy summer of athletics but come September athletes will be turning their attention to the indoor season and having the IAAF World Indoor Championships in the city where I'm based is going to provide me with lots of extra motivation to train hard over the winter. Arena Birmingham is such a great venue for athletics and I love competing in Birmingham, so I’m already looking forward to next March.”
Championships Director for the IAAF World Indoor Championships, Joan Durose, explained why a red panda had been selected as the official mascot: “By having a red panda as our mascot we hope to increase the profile of these beautiful animals and help raise awareness of the fabulous work that Birmingham’s very own Wildlife Conservation Park does to help protect them.
“Ruby gets her name from the gemstone, because of her sparkling personality and as a nod to the city’s famous Jewellery Quarter, as we’re keen to use Birmingham’s hosting of this major sporting championships, as an opportunity to highlight some of the exciting visitor attractions that the city has to offer.
“The IAAF World Indoor Championships is going to be a fabulous event for people of all ages but we know mascots often appeal to young children and we hope that Ruby will help raise awareness of the event to families across Birmingham and beyond.”
Tickets for the IAAF World Indoor Championships will go on public sale later in the year, after what will be a very busy and exciting summer of athletics, including two major events in Birmingham – this weekend’s World Championships Team Trials and the Muller Grand Prix Birmingham on 20 August.
Ruby will make her first public appearance at the World Championships Team Trials at Birmingham's Alexander Stadium from the 1-2 July, which will be a great family event and a chance to see Britain’s best athletes compete. For more information visit britishathletics.org.uk