Garden City, Kan (WesternKansasNews.Com) – Lee Richardson Zoo staff is mourning the loss of Ember, a twelve-year-old red panda. Friday afternoon, staff discovered her unresponsive in her outdoor habitat, and it was determined that she had passed away. Results of the necropsy (an animal autopsy) showed a twisted stomach (gastric torsion). The median life expectancy for red pandas is 10 years. Ember will always be remembered for her sassy attitude.
Ember arrived in Garden City at one year of age. Over her years at Lee Richardson Zoo, she had sixteen offspring, contributing to the sustainability of the red panda population. One of Ember’s offspring, C.J., currently resides at the zoo. Staff will work with the Species Survival Program to bring in a mate for C.J. in the near future.
Superb climbers, red pandas can descend trees headfirst 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 (redpandanetwork.org) to learn more about this fascinating species.