Zoo's red panda cub dies

By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 8, 2010; 2:45 PM

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.

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