Chattanooga Zoo's oldest red panda dies - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga Zoo's oldest red panda dies

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Nigalya, the red panda who had been a resident since 1988, has died. Chattanooga Zoo photo Nigalya, the red panda who had been a resident since 1988, has died. Chattanooga Zoo photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The Chattanooga Zoo announced Monday that their 16-year-old red panda, Nigalya, has died.

In a news release, the Zoo said that Nigalya, who had been a resident since 1988, would be sent to the University of Tennessee Veterinary College for a necropsy to determine the cause of death.

According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the median life expectancy for red pandas is 10.7 years.

The Zoo said Nigalya had been kept comfortable by Zoo staff, who are specifically trained in geriatric care under the guidance of Dr. Anthony Ashley, Chattanooga Zoo Veterinarian.

Nine years ago, Nigalya was treated for testicular cancer and has since enjoyed good health.

During his life at the zoo, he had several companions. His latest exhibit mates, Wen-Dee and Wyatt provided, companionship, hours of enrichment and maybe some aggravation for him as well.

"Nigalya was such a charismatic and delightful animal to work with.  He touched so many lives here in the zoo, and in our community," said Darde Long, Zoo Director.  "He absolutely adored grapes, and as long as they were available, he was happy to participate in behind the scenes tours and animal encounters. His personality made him a favorite with both zoo staff and visitors."  

This weekend, November 30 through December 1, 2013, the Chattanooga Zoo encourages all to come and give their condolences as a tribute to Nigalya. Zoo guests will be able to write and hang farewell messages to Nigalya in the Himalayan Passage indoor red panda viewing window.

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