Major loss for National Zoo: Red panda 'Shama' euthanized

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Smithsonian Zoo's Panda Sharma Dies Of Infection, Leaving 3 Baby Pandas


FRONT ROYAL, Va. (AP/WJLA) - The National Zoo says a female red panda has been euthanized at a conservation center in Virginia after suffering brain swelling associated with a microscopic parasite.

Major loss for National Zoo: Red panda 'Shama' euthanized
Shama the Red Panda @ The National Zoo
Shama the Red Panda @ The National Zoo
Shama the Red Panda @ The National Zoo
Shama the Red Panda @ The National Zoo
Shama the Red Panda @ The National Zoo
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: In this handout provided by the Smithsonian National Zoo, a male red panda named Rusty is seen in his exhibit in the Smithsonian National Zoo on June 18, 2013 in Washington, DC. Rusty went missing on June 23, 2013 from the zoo but was found in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington the following day. (Photo by Abby Wood/Smithsonian National Zoo via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: In this handout provided by the Smithsonian National Zoo, a male red panda named Rusty is seen in his exhibit in the Smithsonian National Zoo on June 18, 2013 in Washington, DC. Rusty went missing on June 23, 2013 from the zoo but was found in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington the following day. (Photo by Abby Wood/Smithsonian National Zoo via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: In this handout provided by the Smithsonian National Zoo, a male red panda named Rusty is seen in his exhibit in the Smithsonian National Zoo on June 18, 2013 in Washington, DC. Rusty went missing on June 23, 2013 from the zoo but was found in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington the following day. (Photo by Abby Wood/Smithsonian National Zoo via Getty Images)
This undated handout photo provided by the National Zoo shows a red panda that escaped from its enclosure at the zoo in Washington in June 2013 and was later found in a nearby neighborhood. The National Zoo has been inspecting vegetation around all of its exhibits to ensure animal enclosures are secure. According to a zoo report on the escape that The Associated Press obtained following a public records request, the zoo has been investigating and observing the red panda named Rusty ever since he was found in a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Abby Wood)
SLUG: Zoo Tales Asia Trail DATE: 03/20/2009 CREDIT: Joe Elbert for TWP LOCATION: National Zoo, Washington DC CAPTION: This runs March 30 Catch me if you can! One and half year old female red panda Shama plays hard to get to her two and half year-old male companion, Tate (below) at the National ZooÕs Asia Trail. Introduced to one another in February this year, the two took a strong liking to one another. Red Pandas are especially vibrant during winter time as their coats redden and thicken; they become easily visible on even the coldest winter day. Shama was born at the National ZooÕs Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, VA while Tate came to the Zoo from Cape May Zoo in New Jersey.
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The 7-year-old red panda named Shama died over the weekend.

"Shama's death is a big loss for all of us and for those who study and care for red pandas everywhere," said National Zoo Director Dennis Kelly.

She became well known at the zoo as the mate of Rusty, who escaped the National Zoo last year. Shama gave birth to three cubs earlier this summer but developed a brain disorder that "quickly progressed."

"Shama was euthanized due to her worsening clinical condition and poor neurological function, which was likely attributed to accumulation of fluid in the brain," the Zoo said in a statement Monday.

Shama, Rusty and the cubs were housed at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal.

Zookeepers say Shama's three cubs are now being hand-reared by animal keepers. The cubs are active, but one is smaller than the others and is being treated for pneumonia.

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