Chang Tan the Red Panda at Henry Vilas Zoo Dies

Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013 --- 11:15 a.m.

Press Release from the Dane County Executive's Office:

Henry Vilas Zoo is grieving over the loss of Chang Tan, the 12-year-old the male red panda, who passed away this weekend, announced Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

“Chang Tan was a unique animal that won the hearts of so many people. He will truly be missed by the staff of the zoo and the countless visitors who came to see him every year,” said Parisi.

Chang Tan was the first red panda to be exhibited in the renovated Children’s Zoo and has been at the zoo since 2007. Chang Tan was a guest and staff favorite, well known for his laid-back personality and artistic abilities as one of the zoo’s resident panda painters.

“Chang’s presence here at Henry Vilas Zoo brought awareness to a charismatic species threatened by habitat loss and human activities. This awareness has allowed us to support organizations that benefit wild red pandas. Chang has truly been an ambassador for his wild relatives,” said red panda keeper Jennifer Zuehlke.

Chang Tan battled health problems for the last several years and with Henry Vilas Zoo’s exceptional veterinary care, was able to have a good quality of life well past his life expectancy. In the last few months, Chang Tan’s health has slowly declined and staff made the difficult decision on Saturday to humanely euthanize him.

Though greatly saddened by these events, zoo staff and the red panda Species Survival Plan (SSP) will learn important details about Chang’s illness through his post-mortem examination.

“Even through his death, Chang will continue to benefit captive and wild red pandas,” said Zuehlke.

Henry Vilas Zoo also houses a breeding pair of red pandas, which can be seen on exhibit every day from 9:30am-5pm.

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