UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The Utica Zoo is very saddened to announce that the second of what belonged to their only pair of Red Panda’s, ‘Muse’ has suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

“We are heartbroken by the sudden and shocking loss of Muse. One day he was behaving normally, interacting with an experienced keeper and on exhibit for guests; the next morning the same keeper was stunned to find that he had died overnight.” – Jay Pratte, Utica Zoo Deputy Director of Life Sciences and Facilities

Muse was a 10-year-old male Red Panda who originally came to the Utica Zoo back in 2011. His mate, Ming Yue passed away in October of 2021 due to “Acute Aspiration Pneumonia”, which is caused by inhalation of saliva, stomach contents, or other foreign particles.

The Zoo immediately contacted Cornell’s veterinarian team to perform a necropsy to determine the cause of death. Results are still pending, but preliminary testing indicate Muse had a blockage that was caused by his normal diet, as well as an intestinal infection. Pratte says that their team is reviewing records, animal logs, and examining any recent changes that may have occurred to help them better understand what happened.

“It is our intention to learn everything possible we can from the situation in-order-to move forward. We have reached out to The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to keep them informed of our loss, request further guidance, and ensure that we are still committed to the ongoing planned management programs.” – Jay Pratte, Utica Zoo Deputy Director of Life Sciences and Facilities

The Zoo is committed to bringing back their Red Panda collection in the future and already had plans to construct a ‘Four-Season Red Panda Habitat’ that will greatly “expand” and improve the animals living area.