Undated file photo of a Red Panda

Red Panda dies at Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove

Recent arrival likely contracted lung infection before arriving here, zoo believes

The Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove announced on Saturday (Aug. 22)  that  Rakesh, a recently arrived male red panda, has died.

It happened on Monday (Aug. 17), the zoo statement said.

A necropsy  found the cause was pulmonary Blastomycosis, a lung infection caused by a fungus found in decaying organic matter like wood and leaves.

Most cases are caused by inhalation of spores from a soil source.

Rakesh and his sibling Arun arrived from the Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg two months ago as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival program (SSP).

“The care of Arun is our top priority right now and as a precaution, he is treated by our veterinarian with medication while further tests are conducted,” the zoo statement said.

Rakesh and Arun were immediately quarantined upon their arrival as required under AZA and CAZA protocols, the zoo said, adding  neither panda was exposed to soil at the zoo quarantine facility, which indicates the infection likely occurred before they left Manitoba.

The Greater Vancouver Zoo has alerted the Assiniboine Zoo, the SSP veterinary advisor, and all other zoos in Canada and US that currently have red pandas.

Red Pandas are listed as endangered.

The population is estimated at less than 10,000, with a continuing decline due to poaching and habitat loss.