Utica, NY—The Utica Zoo is thrilled to announce the return of Mei Lin, a female red panda who was born at the Utica Zoo in 2019. Because she was in the habitat with related males, she was transferred upon reaching breeding age in 2021 based on an SSP recommendation to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility. She returned this spring to Utica for the customary quarantine and observation period. Mei Lin’s return to the Utica Zoo was based on a new recommendation for the long range management plan. News is forthcoming regarding the potential opportunity to have a young male join her in the future.
Over the weekend, Mei Lin was moved to her habitat to serve as an ambassador telling the story of her counterparts who remain in the wild. According to staff, she has already stolen the hearts of many. States Zoological Manager Krystin: “We are so excited to have our sweet girl Mei Lin back with us. I have so many fun memories of her playing as a cub and watching her grow for her first two years of life. I’m happy I will now get to continue this in her adulthood. It’s cool to be able to be with an animal from the time they’re born and then as adults. It creates a different bond when you’re with them throughout their life.”
Red pandas are native to Nepal, China & Myanmar, and India & Bhutan. They are currently listed as “Endangered” in their natural habitat and range according to the IUCN Red List. The Utica Zoo participates in the AZA’s Species Survival Program (SSP), working with experienced coordinators to develop population management plans.
The Utica Zoo will celebrate and commemorate the conservation efforts of red pandas through the observance of International Red Panda Day on Saturday, September 17th. Visitors to Mei Lin’s habitat will also be presented with educational information, action steps to help halt threats of extinction to this beloved species. Special donor initiatives will be offered to support the International Red Panda Network, a research education and outreach program headquartered in Katmandu Nepal. www.redpandanetwork.org
Additionally, a new red panda and tufted deer habitat is on the current list of priority expansion projects. Utica Zoo is currently in architect phase with WDM Architects of Wichita KS and Nelson Architects in Clinton, NY. This four season exhibit area will have ample opportunities for visitors to view the red panda from climate controlled inside and outside features. Funding and naming opportunities are available for this exciting project, for more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 315-738-0472 Ext. 41.
To stay up to date of all things zoo, visit www.uticazoo.org and follow the zoo’s social media sites.