- Associated Press - Thursday, July 8, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — The first red panda cub born at the National Zoo in Washington in 15 years has died.

The 21-day-old male cub was found dead Wednesday. He was the first cub born to red pandas Shama and Tate.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

The zoo says animal keepers had been keeping a close watch on the animals due to the extreme heat and maintained cooling stations in the exhibit. Still, there is a 50 percent mortality rate for red panda cubs born in captivity.

Zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson says the heat did not kill the cub. Veterinarians determined it was not dehydrated.

Since 1962, 184 cubs have been born at both the Zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va.

Red pandas are an endangered species.

 

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