UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The Utica Zoo is very happy to welcome home Red Panda Mei Lin after being away for a year at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Mei Lin is a female Red Panda born in 2019 to parents Ming Yue & Muse who both tragically passed away due to illness in 2021. The devastating loss of Ming Yue & Muse prompted several improvements to the Red Panda Habitat and the development of new Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendations. Mei Lin is one of two pandas in a blood-related family who live at the zoo and when she reached maturity in 2021, she was transferred to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

“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.”  – States Zoological Manager Krystin Aranda

Mei Lin has been in an observational quarantine period at the Zoo since the spring, but she was moved into her permeant forest habitat over the weekend and has made herself right at home welcoming guests. There are also plans to potentially expand the Red Panda family further with the introduction of a young male Red Panda to join Mei Lin in the future.

The Zoo plans to hold a commemorative celebration of Red Panda conservation efforts with the observation of ‘Red Panda Day’ on Saturday, September 17th. Zoo officials also say new Red Panda and Tufted Deer habitat expansion projects are in development for the future. They are working with WDM Architects out of Wichita, KS, and Nelson Architects in Clinton. 

The ‘Four Season Exhibit’ area will “expand” and improve the animal’s living area and give visitors many more opportunities to view the animals from a climate-controlled environment with indoor and outdoor features.

For more information about the Utica Zoo and the ongoing events and projects, including funding and naming opportunities, you can visit the Utica Zoo’s website here, email a.heath@uticazoo.org,  or call 315-738-0472 Ext. 41. Special donor initiatives will be offered to support the International Red Panda Network, research education, and outreach program headquartered in Katmandu Nepal.  www.redpandanetwork.org

Red Panda Facts:

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.