It’s a sad day for animal lovers around the world as Le Le, the 24-year-old giant panda at the Memphis Zoo, has passed away. Le Le’s name translates to “Happy Happy”, and it perfectly reflected his personality. The cause of death is still unknown, but the zoo’s veterinary team and a group of experts from China are conducting a postmortem examination to find out.
The death of Le Le is especially heartbreaking as it comes months before he and the zoo’s female panda, Ya Ya, were set to be returned to China. The Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, the first to be informed of Le Le’s death, has been very supportive and understanding.
Giant pandas are native to central China and are generally rare worldwide. There are only 1,864 giant pandas living in their native habitat, while another 600 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world. The average lifespan of a giant panda is between 15 and 20 years in the wild and may reach around 30 years in zoos.
The Memphis Zoo is hoping to receive a younger pair of pandas in the future. Le Le will be remembered fondly by all who knew him and all who were lucky enough to see him.