UTICA, N.Y. – The Utica Zoo’s only remaining red panda has died just two months after his mate passed away unexpectedly.
The zoo says the 10-year-old panda, Muse, died from a sudden and severe gastrointestinal impaction. In October, the zoo’s other red panda, Ming Yue, died of a lung infection.
“The loss of any animal impacts the zoo staff at all levels; the fact that this tragic loss occurred so unexpectedly while we’re still under the cloak of grief from losing Ming Yu has been just terrible. We’re grateful for the comfort being shared amongst the team, from our board and volunteers and from our community” says Utica Zoo Executive Director Andria Heath.
The preliminary results from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine did not show any foreign objects in Muse’s system but did show evidence of an intestinal infection. The cause of the infection and final results are still pending.
“We know there was a mass of partially-digested normal food items and plant material found in Muse’ system, along with some inflammation that will be further examined,” said Jay Pratte, Utica Zoo’s deputy director of life sciences and facilities. “For those of us with dogs in our homes, we know how severe impaction can be. The deaths of our beloved red pandas is a severe blow to the team and to the community that loves them. While they did occur in a relatively short period of time, the two incidents appear entirely unrelated.”
Muse came to the Utica Zoo from the Red River Zoo in North Dakota in 2012.
Muse and Ming Yue had two groups of cubs in 2019.
Red pandas are endangered species, and the Utica Zoo works with the Red Panda Species Survival Plan on conservation efforts.
The zoo is working on constructing an updated red panda habitat and plans to get more of the animals once that is complete.