It’s with heavy hearts that we report Min, our 10-year-old red panda, died late last week. This is a difficult loss; Min was a favorite of guests and staff at the Zoo.

Min could often be seen perched along her favorite high branch. Known for being solitary, red pandas in the wild spend most of their day resting in trees to conserve their energy.

Over the last several months, the Animal Health and Animal Care teams had been closely monitoring Min. She had a number of health issues and her interest in exploring her habitat and eating had been declining recently.

Born at a zoo in Oklahoma in June 2011, Min came to the Minnesota Zoo in 2012. With her shy and sweet nature, she quickly became beloved – inspiring guests and acting as an ambassador for her wild counter parts. More recently, she was the focal point of our ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge – in which students were tasked with designing enrichment items for Min. Through this process, she inspired hundreds of students from throughout Minnesota and beyond.

For enrichment, Min enjoyed pine boughs and grapevine balls. Bamboo leaves are a large part of a red panda’s diet. In the wild, they can eat up to 30% of their body weight in a single day.

Being more shy than other red pandas, it took a while for Min to build trust. But she developed a deep bond with her favorite zookeeper, Melissa. With the help of her favorite treat, grape jelly, Min and Zookeeper Melissa were able to work on training together and identify ways to keep Min engaged and encouraged to express her natural behaviors.

Min was the only red panda at the Zoo. A special thanks to our Animal Health and Animal Care teams for their dedication and commitment to providing Min with the best care possible.