published Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Second red panda dies at Chattanooga Zoo

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    A red panda is seen in this file photo at the Chattanooga Zoo.
    Photo by D. Patrick Harding

A second red panda died at the Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park over the weekend.

Zoo officials announced Monday that Butch, an ailing 16-year-old red panda, died after suffering from excess fluid around his lungs.

"The extended life of this particular animal points to the excellent care given to him by his keepers," according to a zoo news release.

In the wild, the average life expectancy of red pandas is eight to 10 years. But many experts say animals in captivity live longer, and some red pandas at the Knoxville Zoo have lived to be 18, according to Angela R. Glatston, curator of mammals and conservation coordinator of the Rotterdam Zoo and author of the book "Red Panda: Biology and Conservation of the First Panda."

The oldest red panda on record lived to 21 years and seven months at the Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands, according to Glatston.

The Chattanooga Zoo lost an 11-year-old red panda, Bella, last month and announced her death last week. Zoo officials said Bella died after fighting a skin infection for more than a year.

Zoo officials had termed both Bella and Butch "geriatric."

Chattanooga zoo spokeswoman and Friends of the Zoo board member Robin Derryberry said Monday the University of Tennessee College of Medicine necropsy of Bella has not been finalized.

Last week, UT officials said they were are awaiting permission from zoo Director Darde Long to release copies of the necropsy.

Derryberry said Monday that zoo officials decline to talk about the turnaround.

Contact staff writer Pam Sohn at psohn@timesfree or 423-757-6346.

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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