Officials at the Seneca Park Zoo say that the zoo’s male red panda, named Blaze, has died unexpectedly.
In a Facebook post, they say the cause of death was determined to be a respiratory infection. Blaze was born in 2013 at a zoo in Kansas and in 2014 he was moved to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, where he sired two offspring.
Blaze came to Seneca Park Zoo in 2018 for the Zoo’s new Cold Asia habitat, which opened in June of that year.
“When he first came to Seneca Park Zoo, Blaze was very shy and timid,” said Zoo Keeper Heidi Beifus. “Over the next 17 months, with a lot of attention from keepers, he became quite adept at training and learning new behaviors that greatly assisted with his care. He was a very sweet panda.”
Officials say that Seneca Park Zoo’s other red panda, a two-year old female named Starlight, appears to be healthy and will remain in the habitat.
They say that Red pandas are solitary animals by nature, so living on her own will not affect Starlight’s welfare.
The Zoo will work with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Red Panda Species Survival Program to identify another red panda for the habitat at the Seneca Park Zoo.