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The Zoo Atlanta family is deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Ruby, a female red panda. Ruby was found deceased by her care team on March 8, 2024.  

The definitive cause of Ruby’s death is not yet known. Preliminary findings of a necropsy, or the non-human equivalent of an autopsy, indicated a mesenteric torsion. This is often a fatal condition that occurs when the intestines twist. Further investigation will be performed with the Zoo’s partnership with the University of Georgia Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service in the College of Veterinary Medicine and should provide the teams with more information.  

“This is a devastating loss for Zoo Atlanta. Our thoughts are with Ruby’s care team who, like all of the Animal Care Teams at Zoo Atlanta, are deeply committed to the animals and devote each day to their superior care and well-being,” said Sam Rivera, DVM, Vice President of Animal Health. “While it is too early for us to presume on any specific cause, we are hopeful that pathology report results will tell us more about Ruby’s condition.”   

Ruby and her sister, Rose, arrived at Zoo Atlanta in February 2023 from another Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited organization.  

Red pandas are a separate species from giant pandas, with which they share a distant common ancestor but to which they are not closely related. Members of the animal family Ailuridae, red pandas are known for their lustrous red coats and are largely arboreal. The species is generally solitary in the wild but may occasionally be found in small groups.  

There are two subspecies of red pandas. The Himalayan subspecies, which is represented at Zoo Atlanta, is native to Nepal, Bhutan, and parts of India, while the second subspecies is native to China. Red pandas are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In addition to their greatest challenge of habitat loss, red pandas are threatened by poaching for their pelts and capture for the illegal pet trade. Zoo Atlanta currently supports red panda conservation through its Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund. Funding from Zoo Atlanta works to counteract habitat loss by enabling continued support of the Red Panda Network’s reforestation nursery in Jaubari, Nepal.  


Rachel Davis
Director of Communications

Gavin Johnson
Public Relations and Communications Specialist

About Zoo Atlanta
A proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for animal care and welfare, Zoo Atlanta has a mission to save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education, and engaging experiences. The Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals representing more than 200 species from around the world, many of them endangered or critically endangered. Highlights include giant pandas.; one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Recent transformations include the African Savanna, featuring new and expanded habitats for African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, warthogs, meerkats, and rhinos; Savanna Hall, a state-of-the-art special event destination in the restored historic former home of the Atlanta Cyclorama; and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Plaza. For more information, visit

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