Father of baby red panda dies of rare stomach condition

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Winston, an 8-year-old red panda, died Tuesday night due to complications from an extremely rare stomach condition. | Courtesy Idaho Falls Zoo

IDAHO FALLS — An endangered red panda living at the Idaho Falls Zoo was euthanized Tuesday night following complications of an extremely rare stomach condition.

Winston, an 8-year-old male, was in surgery to correct a gastric dilatation/volvulus that had developed, according to an Idaho Falls Zoo Facebook post.

“Gastric dilatation/volvulus is a condition where the stomach rapidly dilates then twists. It is normally seen in large, deep-chested dogs and the condition deteriorates quickly,” the post reads. “There are only two reports of this condition seen in red pandas with no known cause.”

Zoo officials say Winston became ill at closing time and was treated on-site before being transferred to the Idaho Falls Veterinary Emergency Clinic. Surgery was performed to try and return the stomach back to its normal position but “the deteriorated condition of the stomach would not have sustained life.” Authorities then made the decision to euthanize the panda.

“This condition has been rarely seen in other species and the causes have not been determined. We hope to learn more after a necropsy has been completed,” says zoo veterinarian Dr. Rhonda Aliah.

Winston came to Idaho Falls earlier this year from Zoo Boise to be paired with Delilah, a female red panda, as part of the red panda Species Survival Plan (SSP). The pairing resulted in the birth of Marvin on June 29.

“We were elated to see the pairing result in little Marvin and are devastated at Winston’s sudden passing,” the zoo posted on Facebook. “We will be working with the red panda SSP to identify a new match for Delilah.”

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