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Le Le, Memphis Zoo panda, dies at 25

Memphis Zoo said Le Le's cause of death has not been determined. Le Le was expected to return to China soon with female panda Ya Ya as a loan agreement ended.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Zoo announced Friday, Feb. 3 that giant male panda Le Le died at 25-years-old.

There is a pending medical investigation, but no cause of death has been determined, the zoo said. 

Le Le, whose name translates to "happy happy," was born on July 18, 1998, and he was brought to the Memphis Zoo in 2003.

“Le Le’s name translates to ‘happy happy,’ and his name perfectly reflected his personality,” the zoo said in a statement. “Le Le was a happy bear that enjoyed apples, engaging with enrichment and relaxing while covering himself with freshly shredded bamboo. He had an easy-going personality and was a favorite of all who met and worked with him over the years.”

Le Le was expected to return to China soon with female panda Ya Ya as a loan agreement ended with the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens.

The life expectancy of a giant panda in the wild is about 15 years, but in captivity they have lived to be as old as 38. Decades of conservation efforts in the wild and study in captivity saved the giant panda from extinction, increasing its population from fewer than 1,000 at one time to more than 1,800 in the wild and captivity.

The advocacy group In Defense of Animals has applauded the return of the animals, saying they had been suffering in the zoo setting. Zoo officials have said the pandas are healthy and well taken care of, with as much as they want to eat.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Memphis Zoo Officials Address Death Of Giant Panda

Memphis Zoo Officials Address Death Of Giant Panda Le Le. Earlier today, we held a news conference with our Chief Executive Officer Matt Thompson, Chief Zoological Officer Courtney Janney, and Senior Veterinarian Dr. Felicia Knightly. We encourage you to watch it in its entirety, as it may answer one of your questions.

Posted by Memphis Zoo on Friday, February 3, 2023

Rest easy, sweet boy. Thank you to Holliday Flowers for this beautiful arrangement. If you’d like to leave a note or flowers for Le Le, we’ll be open tomorrow 2/4.

Posted by Memphis Zoo on Friday, February 3, 2023

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