Two panda cubs pass away, other two doing well at Lee Richardson Zoo

Courtesy of Lee Richardson Zoo

GARDEN CITY, KS–Friday, July 19, was an unhappy day for Lee Richardson Zoo staff. The red panda cub with health issues that was being hand-reared, lost his valiant fight passing away. That same day, one of the cubs being mother-reared passed away also.

On Wednesday, July 17, after Ember had given birth to three cubs, she left one in one of the denning boxes and curled up with the other two in another den. That lone cub, a female, was pulled and is being hand-reared. Approximately two hours later Ember gave birth to her fourth cub. Staff, knowing even triplets are hard for red pandas to succeed with, pulled one of the three that was with her at that time. That little male had injuries of an unknown origin that made his survival questionable, but staff were going to do what they could to give him a fighting chance as no terminal damage or permanent or deteriorating quality of life issue was noted at the time.

“The little fella gave all he had as did zoo staff but it just wasn’t enough,” said Kristi Newland, Zoo Director. “He may have only been with us for a little while, but it hurts to have lost him; and while we weren’t as involved with the one that passed while Ember was doing her best to raise it, that’s a loss we feel also. Moving forward, we have to focus on the two cubs still with us.”

Mother and cub are indoors, where they will most likely stay until late September or early October based on when Ember has elected to go outside with her previous litters. Until then, footage of mom and cubs will be on the zoo’s website (, 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 ( or the Red Panda Network

For More Information Contact: Kristi Newland, Zoo Director, at, or Max Lakes, Curator of Conservation Education, at or 620-276-1250.