Seneca Park Zoo mourning loss of red panda, Blaze


(Seneca Park Zoo photo)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Officals at the Seneca Park Zoo are mourning the loss of one of their red pandas.

Blaze, one of the zoo’s two red pandas, died overnight. Officials determined the cause of death was due to a respiratory infection.

“When he first came to Seneca Park Zoo, Blaze was very shy and timid,” said Zoo Keeper Heidi Beifus. “Over the next 17 months, with a lot of attention from keepers, he became quite adept at training and learning new behaviors that greatly assisted with his care. He was a very sweet panda.”

According to zoo officials, Blaze was born in 2013 at the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas. In 2014, he moved to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, where he sired two offspring. Blaze came to Seneca Park Zoo in 2018 for the Zoo’s new Cold Asia habitat, which opened in June of that year.

Seneca Park Zoo’s other red panda, a two-year old female named Starlight, appears to be healthy and will remain in the habitat. Red pandas are solitary animals by nature so zoo officials say Blaze’s death will not affect her welfare.

Zoo officials say they will work with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Red Panda Species Survival Program to identify another red panda for the habitat.

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