Chinese Panda Dies Suddenly At Tennessee Zoo

Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Frances Floresca Contributor
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The Memphis Zoo in Tennessee announced the death of one of its pandas Friday.

Le Le died at 25 years old and had been on loan to the Memphis zoo from China for the past 20 years, according to Newstalk Memphis. Le Le and another panda at the zoo were slated to be returned to China later this year, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. (RELATED: World’s Oldest Male Gorilla Dies Days After Primate Partner Of 15 Years Dies)

The Memphis Zoo said in a statement that Le Le was “a happy bear that enjoyed apples, engaging with enrichment and relaxing while covering himself with freshly shredded bamboo.”

In 2022, animal rights activists criticized the zoo, claiming that zoo personnel were mistreating the pandas, according to a local NBC affiliate. The activists alleged in a Twitter post Thursday that the pandas were “suffering devastating mental & physical diseases.”

“CAZG is confident that the giant pandas at the Memphis Zoo are receiving the highest quality of care,” the Memphis Zoo said in a statement released on their website.

The Commercial Appeal also reported that the zoo released a series of emails claiming that both pandas “were in great health, especially for their age.”

In 2019, some zoo officials expressed concerns that their giant pandas would be recalled to China amid the escalating trade war between the United States and China.

The cause of Le Le’s death is currently unknown, according to Memphis Zoo.