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LeLe the Giant Panda Dies of Neglect After Collapse at Memphis Zoo Shortly Before Return to China

From IDA In Defense of Animals
February 2023

Memphis Zoo utterly failed LeLe and has clearly demonstrated its profound inability to properly care for pandas, not to mention elephants. 

Panda LeLe

On December 21st, we were thrilled by the news that the Memphis Zoo’s giant pandas YaYa and LeLe would finally be returned to China this spring, where they would at long last get the quality care they needed. Unfortunately, in a devastating turn of events, LeLe passed away. Now, we’re calling for immediate steps to be taken to honor LeLe and ensure this zoo never exhibits pandas again.

Just six weeks ago, we were celebrating the news that LeLe and YaYa would be returned to their homeland of China once their loan contract ends on April 7, 2023, following two years of campaigning in partnership with Panda Voices on their behalf. It’s incredibly tragic that after 20 years of suffering, LeLe died prematurely of neglect and inadequate care when he was so close to going home. His health was obviously worsening, yet no recommended changes were made to help him or YaYa. Zoo captivity and prolonged, inadequate care destroyed this beautiful individual. He was only 24 years old, yet pandas can live well over 30 years. His own mother XinXing passed away at the age of 38 in China in 2020.

On February 3, Memphis Zoo announced that LeLe had passed away on February 1. We were aghast with their statements during the press conference that took place. When asked about LeLe’s recent health, they shockingly said, “We saw no indication that would lead us to believe there is anything wrong with LeLe.” Only the most unobservant or untruthful could make this claim with a straight face. When journalists asked about the concerns raised by In Defense of Animals and Panda Voices about LeLe’s recent lack of appetite, weakness, and his filmed collapse, they had the nerve to claim that LeLe “was just being silly,” “he acts dramatically,” and “he was simply lying down on that video” A few days later, according to them, LeLe “suddenly” died (as if his frightening collapse didn’t indicate anything wrong!).


Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE.


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