The Chattanooga Zoo announced the loss of its beloved 16-year-old red panda, Nigalya on Monday. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) the median life expectancy for red pandas is 10.7 years.
Officials said, "Nigalya has called the Chattanooga Zoo home since 1998 and lived a long and fulfilling life. In his last hours, he was kept very comfortable by Zoo staff specifically trained in geriatric care and Dr. Anthony Ashley, Chattanooga Zoo veterinarian. Although apparent reason for death is advanced age, as is the Chattanooga Zoo’s protocol, Nigalya will be transported to UT Veterinary College for a necropsy."
Nine years ago, Nigalya was treated for testicular cancer and has since enjoyed good health.
During his life at the zoo, he had several companions. His latest exhibit mates, Wen-Dee and Wyatt provided, companionship, hours of enrichment and perhaps a bit of aggravation for him as well.
“Nigalya was such a charismatic and delightful animal to work with. He touched so many lives here in the zoo, and in our community,” said Darde Long, zoo director. “He absolutely adored grapes, and as long as they were available, he was happy to participate in behind the scenes tours and animal encounters. His personality made him a favorite with both zoo staff and visitors.”
This weekend, Nov. 30 through Dec. 1, the Chattanooga Zoo encourages all to come and give their condolences as a tribute to Nigalya. Zoo guests will be able to write and hang farewell messages to Nigalya in the Himalayan Passage indoor red panda viewing window. Officials said Nigalya will be missed by all.