According to a news release from the National Zoo in Washington, DC, Shama, the female red panda was euthanized at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia on August 16. The 7 year-old new mother had just given birth to a trio of cubs on June 26. Experts opined: “It is rare for a red panda to successfully (give birth to and) raise three cubs.”
Zoo officials reported that a “necropsy performed later that evening revealed severe cerebral edema (swelling of the brain). Based on preliminary cytology, the swelling is attributed to encephalitis associated with a microscopic parasite.”
They added: “On Wednesday, August 13, keepers noticed that Shama had developed a neurologic disorder that progressed quickly. Shama was euthanized due to her worsening clinical condition and poor neurological function, which was likely attributed to accumulation of fluid in the brain.”
The officials also reported that following the birth of her three cubs Shama the red panda was transported to the Smithsonian’s Front Royal facility where she was placed under observation. Rusty, the father and Shama’s widowed mate made headlines in June of 2013 when he somehow broke free of his enclosure at the National Zoo in DC. He had been with Shama and their cub at the Front Royal facility is being given anti-protozoal treatments to play it safe. He is reported to be “doing well.”
National Zoo Director Dennis Kelly stated: “Shama’s death is a big loss for all of us and for those who study and care for red pandas everywhere. I have a lot of confidence in the team caring for the surviving cubs and hope this creates an opportunity for scientists to research infectious diseases that affect red pandas.”
Shama is survived by her mate Rusty and their three cubs. The cubs are presently being “hand-reared” by National Zoo staff. Her cubs are also being giving anti-protozoal treatments as a precautionary measure.
Shama The Red Panda Dies From Encephalitis