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Red panda returns to the Utica Zoo

Posted 8/27/22

Utica Zoo announced the return of Mei Lin, a female red panda who was born at the Utica Zoo in 2019.

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Red panda returns to the Utica Zoo


UTICA — Utica Zoo announced the return of Mei Lin, a female red panda who was born at the Utica Zoo in 2019.

Because she was in the habitat with related males, Mei Lin was transferred upon reaching breeding age in 2021 based on a recommendation to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility. She returned this spring to Utica for the customary quarantine and observation period.

Mei Lin’s return to the Utica Zoo was based on a new recommendation for the long range management plan.

News is forthcoming regarding the potential opportunity to have a young male join her in the future.

Mei Lin was moved to her habitat to serve as an ambassador telling the story of her counterparts who remain in the wild. According to staff, she has already stolen the hearts of many.

Red pandas are native to Nepal, China and Myanmar, and India and 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.

The Utica Zoo will celebrate and commemorate the conservation efforts of red pandas through the observance of International Red Panda Day on Saturday, Sept. 17. Visitors to Mei Lin’s habitat will also be presented with educational information, action steps to help halt threats of extinction to this beloved species.

Special donor initiatives will be offered to support the International Red Panda Network, a research education and outreach program headquartered in Katmandu Nepal at

Additionally, a new red panda and tufted deer habitat are on the current list of priority expansion projects. Utica Zoo is currently in the architectural phase with WDM Architects of Wichita, Kansas, and Nelson Architects in Clinton. The four-season exhibit area will have ample opportunities for visitors to view the red panda from climate-controlled inside and outside features.

Funding and naming opportunities are available for the project. For more information, email: or call 315-738-0472, ext. 41.


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