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Posted at 1:35 PM ET, 07/ 8/2010

Zoo's red panda cub dies

By Michael E. Ruane

The National Zoo announced Thursday that its newborn red panda cub has died.

The cub was found apparently lifeless Wednesday evening and was rushed to the zoo's veterinary hospital, where its death was confirmed.

The male cub, born June 16, was the first for parents Shama and Tate, and the first red panda cub born at the zoo in 15 years.

Zookeepers had been watching the cub closely since its birth because of the extreme heat and because its mother had been moving him about their outdoor exhibit instead of keeping him in a nest box, as would be expected, the zoo said.

The zoo said there is a 50 percent mortality rate for red panda cubs born in captivity. Pathologists performed a necropsy Wednesday night but a definite cause of death was not determined.

“This is an enigmatic and important species,” said zoo Director Dennis Kelly. “We’re deeply disappointed to lose this cub but there are inherent risks in the conservation of rare species."

Much smaller than the black and white giant panda, red pandas resemble a cross between a fox and a raccoon.

By Michael E. Ruane  | July 8, 2010; 1:35 PM ET
Categories:  DC  
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Comments

Another animal death at the National Zoo. Wow, what a surprise.

Anyone who has followed the exhibits at the National Zoo through the years knows that it's a long, sad saga of animals that have died because of the zoo personnel's incompetence, neglect and stupidity.

Posted by: checkered1 | July 8, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

You're an @ss checkered1. The thought that the cub died due to the heat I can believe. Unfortunate though, I would've considered to keeping them in a confined area and only letting them out when the temps cooled during the evening/night.

Posted by: lulu202 | July 8, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Why wasn't that basically newborn baby panda cub kept indoors during this heat wave????? WTF???? Maybe if he'd had to go back to China they would have treated him better.

Posted by: hcpf | July 8, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

checkered isn't wrong about the Zoo's history, although 50-50 odds aren't great either.

Posted by: chunche | July 8, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

You all must know that personnel stay well away from sensitive newborn animals at all zoos worldwide to avoid interfering between parents (especially the mother) and newborn. The personnel can't force the red panda and newborn indoors or else risk alarming the parents, who could then simply abandon the newborn and leave them for dead.

Posted by: crzytwnman | July 8, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Chit dies... we waste money... evolution... leave it alone

Posted by: rockettonu | July 8, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Really unfortunate - and frustrating, considering the past history of animals dieing at our national zoo. Has anyone done an investigation of all these deaths over the past several years at the zoo? How does it stack up to animal deaths at other large zoos? How much of it is due to human error, and how much due to natural causes?

Posted by: Snapper24 | July 8, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Here's an investigation for you. Close the f***ing zoo and place the animals on preserves, unfortunately they've become too human dependent b/c humans are greedy and want to keep animals in little cages so their dumb kids can come look and gawk.

Our race is a f***ing abomination to this planet and it's flora and fauna.

Posted by: Bigfoot_has_a_posse | July 8, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

"There are inherent risks in the conservation of rare species."

And in keeping any animal alive at the National Zoo.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | July 8, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Its a sad state of affairs when someone dies, but for rare animals to die in the same zoo, its tragic. Why waste the life of rare animals, by showcasing them? This is something I will never understand. GOD gave the earth to the animals, so they could run free without worry of being captured. Then came the human race! We should all show respect to the animals, and have them run free without the animals being captured. If this situation keeps happening then its the human's reasoning that is at fault. Animals are there to be loved, not torn from their homes. How would anyone like to be treated like these poor animals in the zoo's? Its a disgrace to see animals treated so badly.

Posted by: Cherokee316 | July 8, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

bigfoot is spot on righto! zoos are a sick idea in this day. Let the animals be, help create preserves, and do not cage any more of these creatures.

Posted by: johng1 | July 8, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

The zoo sits in of of the lower elevations in DC. The air contains a lot of exhaust fumes as well as other pollutants. This is a miserable polace to try to raise a Panda cub.

Posted by: unseenmirage | July 8, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Bigfoot is dead on.

Although with the BP oil spill I'm not sure you can be too confident that any part of the US is actually a "protected area".

However, brining in animals from around the world at a cost of millions of dollars when you could probably purchase half of a Western province in China or big areas of land in Laos or Cambodia for the same amount and then let animals hang out in their natural habitat and study them there seems a bit crazy. If you feel the need to study animals in captivity you can work in a pharmaceutical company and inject rabbits and mice with all the chemicals we require for our daily living.

In Australia they have moved to having indigenous animals at many of their wilderness parks and zoos in open areas...maybe something the US should look into. Try to educate young Americans on the animals around them and how to preserve the natural habitats of indigenous American species. If you want to learn about the panda you have a thing called the internet with youtube where you can spend a lifetime watching the animals in their natural habitat instead of locked in a cell in DC.

Posted by: Southeasterner | July 8, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I’m also not sure how proud the Zoo can actually feel about paying China millions to “lease” Pandas which they then subsidize by selling Chinese made stuffed animals that are probably produced in some factory where 16 year old girls are working 7 days per week instead of attending school, meanwhile all the factory waste is being dumped directly into a local river.

How about a larger exhibit on grey wolves with souvenirs made by impoverished native Americans from a local Indian reservation? You could teach the kids about a native animal and about the lives of the native people at the same time without paying a Communist country that ignores human rights millions to lease the animals, and without having to deal with environmentally unfriendly mass production of souvenirs and the transport of those souvenirs half-way around the world.

Posted by: Southeasterner | July 8, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

@Southeasterner:

Because pandas are cute and gray wolves aren't.

Because as horrible as China's practices are, we are now an interdependent world and they finance our lifestyle. That won't change for generations.

Posted by: mikecapitolhill | July 9, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

I completely agree with many of your comments on humans being an abomination, and less than adequate caretakers, of our earth. That being said, zoos are the sacrifice of the few to benefit the many. I don't mean to sound callous, but many children, who see animals at the zoo firsthand, establish a lifelong commitment to animal rights. Working with children, I know that many would not feel the same without that close contact. Preserves would be a far superior (but much more expensive) alternative.

Posted by: tiredteacher | July 9, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch of ignorant comments. Animal babies die in the wild just like they die in captivity. 50% mortality rate for red pandas, is sad but documented. In the wild, it is listed as 86% (Langtang National Park, Nepal) (Fox et al. 1996).

The best care for a red panda cub would be its mother, and whoever cared for these pandas would have tried to let the mother raise the young before stepping in. Not every baby is meant to survive.

While it would be nice to house all these animals on large preserves somewhere, the point of zoos now is not to gawk at animals, but give people a connection to wildlife and hopefully inspire them to want to make a difference. What does a kid care for a red panda if he has never seen one up close? How are you going to raise money for conservation when the animals are all hidden away on preserves? There are private breeding facilities for many endangered animals, but not enough money to put them all there.

When animals start going extinct, we will be lucky that there are zoos and breeding facilities out there who have, over the years, gained success in breeding wild animals in captivity and have a good genetic population built up for when we may, one day, have to breed and release back into the wild to save them. Breeding these animals successfully can take years to accomplish.

Posted by: shehasmoxy | July 12, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

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