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Le Le and Ya Ya

By Suri Zheng

Have you seen these Giant Pandas? The one on the right is Le Le or “Happy Happy. Le Le was born on July 18, 1998, in Shanghai. In April 2003, Le Le arrived at the Memphis Zoo, Tennessee as part of a joint research project between the CAZG and the US zoo (global times). Sadly he passed away at 25 last month due to natural causes.

Just last week, panda experts did an autopsy of Le Le and determined that he died due to a heart disease. “We are devastated,” Panda Voices spokesperson, Clemenson said. The name “Happy Happy” fit the giant panda perfectly, “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.” (global times). Just days before Le Le passed away peacefully, the zoo didn’t observe any abnormalities in the panda. Hence, his death was “unexpected”.

But was his death really “unexpected”? Some claim Le Le looked malnourished and had “severe signs of mental stress” (VeganNews). Part of the assumption is that Le Le never had any fresh bamboo and was trapped in his enclosure for the past 20 years. 

Memphis Zoo’s other giant panda, Ya Ya, pictured on the left, is the female companion of Le Le and also arrived in 2003. Ya Ya also like Le Le shows signs of malnourishment and stress. A spokesperson for the Memphis Zoo issued this statement to the public: “Our veterinary team reports the appearance of Ya Ya’s skin and coat varies considerably throughout the year due to several factors. Ya Ya is in perfect health and, like all of our animals, she is observed very closely by our animal care and veterinary teams daily.”(VeganNews). If the version of “healthy” Memphis Zoo is referring to is having visible skin problems and appears skinnier than any panda her age, then they may have a wrong misconception of the word “healthy”. 

Luckily, Le Le and Ya Ya are scheduled to return to China some time this year, but sadly only Ya Ya will return to her homeland. 

About Suri Zheng

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