The Utica Zoo is mourning the sudden death of its red panda Muse.  According to the necropsy it was not a broken heart that killed Muse, but the red panda must have missed his partner, Ming Yu.

Zoo officials say the 10-year-old male showed no signs of illness leading up to his death just before the Christmas holiday.

“The loss of any animal impacts the zoo staff at all levels; the fact that this tragic loss occurred so unexpectedly while we’re still under the cloak of grief from losing Ming Yu has been just terrible.  We’re grateful for the comfort being shared amongst the team, from our board and volunteers and from our community” says Utica Zoo Executive Director, Andria Heath.

Preliminary necropsy results from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine indicate Muse died from an acute gastrointestinal impaction.

The blockage contained his normal diet and did not appear to include any foreign objects.

There was also evidence of an internal infection, with the cause of the infection and final results still pending from Cornell.

“We are heartbroken by the sudden and shocking loss of Muse,” shares Utica Zoo Deputy Director of Life Sciences and Facilities Jay Pratte. “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. Our veterinary team was immediately notified and Cornell contacted for assistance with a necropsy  to ascertain cause of death.”

The zoo’s second red panda Ming Yue passed away in October due to acute aspiration pneumonia.

They were the only two red pandas presently in the Utica Zoo’s collection.

Red pandas are extremely endangered, with less than 2,500 left in the wild.

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