Heartbreaking News As Beloved Panda LeLe Has Passed Away After Collapsing On The Panda Live Cam At The Memphis Zoo

It is with great sadness that WAN reports that LeLe, the giant panda at the Memphis Zoo, has passed away. WAN was alerted to the heartbreaking news by Panda Voices, an organization that has been advocating for LeLe and Yaya to be returned back to their homeland of China.

What makes LeLe’s death even more devastating is that the Memphis Zoo and the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) recently announced that YaYa, 22, and LeLe, 24, who have been suffering at the zoo since 2003, would finally return to China in the spring of this year, following a two-year campaign by In Defense of Animals and Panda Voices.

“It is with great sadness and devastation that we take the loss of Our King LeLe. Panda Voices was founded with the goal of saving both giant pandas LeLe and YaYa from the neglect of the Memphis Zoo. Sadly, LeLe has passed on to Panda Planet. For him, our fight must intensify. Such cruelty, lies, and abuse can no longer be tolerated. Panda warriors worldwide must join together in order to prevent this from happening again. God Rest King LeLe,” Tom Clemenson, Panda Voices’ U.S. Spokesperson, told WAN.

Many advocates became even more concerned for LeLe’s health, following video footage that captured him collapsing and not standing up for several hours on January 25th. Then, shortly before his passing, Panda Voices reported that LeLe had not been seen on the panda live cam for a few days.

In Defense of Animals and Panda Voices had been calling on the Memphis Zoo to immediately improve the quality of bamboo and panda care for LeLe and YaYa before they travel back to China. The organizations also wanted the zoo to commit to stop exhibiting giant pandas.

“We call on the Memphis Zoo to commit to shutting its panda exhibit for good after YaYa and LeLe depart. A new contract with China would condemn another pair of pandas to suffer for the next 10-20 years,” said Brittany Michelson, captive animals campaigner for IDA.

In the past, In Defense of Animals and Panda Voices made repeated attempts to meet with Memphis Zoo President, Matt Thompson, to address concerns about the pandas, but they were ignored. The organizations then worked to expose the pandas’ suffering and alerted CAZG to the poor quality of food and care provided to YaYa and LeLe.

The Chinese zoo organization released a statement on March 10, 2022, titled “Statement on husbandry and health condition of the giant pandas LeLe and YaYa at the Memphis Zoo.” CAZG admitted that both pandas were underweight and suggests that the Memphis Zoo improve their diets by increasing food variety and protein sources to improve nutrition and help them gain weight. However, there has been no evidence that the Memphis Zoo has implemented CAZG’s suggestions to improve the pandas’ diets.

As a senior panda, Yaya, has gone through several miscarriages, suffers from skin mites, and is extremely underweight. Encagement has brought on serious stereotypical behavior as well.

Following the passing of LeLe, Yaya cannot wait any longer for the Memphis Zoo to improve her diet per CAZG’s recommendations. This is even more important since the panda will return to China in the following months and needs to be healthy, strong, and fit to endure the long flight.

A full investigation needs to be carried out into LeLe’s death and Yaya needs to be monitored by an outside party to make sure her health improves before her transfer to China.

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