The Birmingham Zoo in Alabama is mourning the loss of one of their endangered red pandas, Parker, who was found dead on Sunday.
“The passing of Parker red panda is a devastating loss for not only our staff and volunteers but also for our guests who loved him,” Birmingham Zoo President & CEO, Chris Pfefferkorn, said in a statement.
“Parker was an amazing red panda and a beloved member of our Zoo family,” he added. “He always received the best care and attention from our Animal Care staff, and he was quite adept at participating in husbandry training and learning new behaviors that greatly assisted with his care. Parker holds a special place in our hearts, and he will be deeply missed.”
Zoo officials say there were “no obvious physical injuries or any indication of illness” in the 4-year-old panda, and that a necropsy did not reveal an obvious cause of death. They are now waiting for further testing.
“Parker’s test results are pending,” Birmingham Zoo Director of Animal Health, Dr. Stephanie McCain said in a statement. “We hope to know more information in the coming weeks. Parker’s passing is very heartbreaking. He was a great red panda and a favorite of many — he will be greatly missed by all of us.”
Parker was one of two red pandas at the zoo. The small, reddish-brown animals can live to 23 years old and are known to be skilled climbers.
The species is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. Researchers with the Smithsonian National Zoo say the pandas’ decline is due in large part to habitat loss, human interference and poaching. They also believe that the total population of red pandas has “declined by 40 percent over the past two decades.”
The second red panda at the Birmingham Zoo is a 9-year-old female named Sorrel. Officials say she is being closely monitored by Zoo Animal Care Professionals and the veterinary team, who report that she is doing well with no signs of illness.
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