Lee Richardson Zoo
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One panda cub passes away, remaining cub thriving



Staff at Lee Richardson Zoo are mourning the death of Sparky, one of the red panda cubs born August 12th.


On Saturday, December 9 at the first morning check, Animal Care staff found Sparky in respiratory distress.  The cub was immediately taken for veterinary care, but despite treatment with antibiotics and fluids, as well as being moved into an oxygen cage, Sparky passed away later that day.  Preliminary necropsy findings suggest the cub inhaled some of his food, causing damage and inflammation to his lungs.  Both cubs had started weaning recently, shifting their diet from their mother’s milk to more solid foods and bamboo.


“Losing Sparky is a shock to us.  We saw Sparky and his brother Blaze playing and exploring their habitat together daily and it has been such a joy to watch them grow,” said Sarah Colman, General Curator.  “Animal care and veterinary staff did everything they could to save Sparky when he was found to be in distress and we are heartbroken that he is gone.”


The Lee Richardson Zoo remains home to three red pandas, male Charlie, female Ember, and their son Blaze.  All three pandas have access to their outdoor habitat daily and may be seen there.  Footage of the pandas can also the zoo Facebook page and YouTube channel, as well as local cable channel 8. 


Superb climbers, red pandas can descend trees head first like a squirrel, thanks to a special rotating ankle joint. In the wild, they are found from Nepal to Burma, and into Central China.  They are listed as Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) primarily due to the destruction of their habitat for human use (logging, farming, firewood, etc…).  There has also been an increase in poaching and trafficking for the pet trade.   Visit the zoo’s website (www.leerichardsonzoo.org) or the Red Panda Network to learn more about this fascinating species.