BRITISH COLUMBIA

Red Panda Dies Suddenly At Greater Vancouver Zoo

08/24/2015 08:23 EDT | Updated 08/24/2015 08:59 EDT

A fungal disease not normally found in B.C. is being blamed for the sudden death of a red panda at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

A male red panda named Rakesh died unexpectedly last week, the zoo said in a news release on Monday.

The priority for zookeepers now is to protect Rakesh's sibling, Arun, who is being treated with medication, said general manager Jody Henderson.

A necropsy found that Rakesh died on Aug. 17 from pulmonary blastomycosis, which is caused by a fungus found in decaying organic matter like wood and leaves.

The two siblings arrived at the Aldergrove facility from the Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg two months ago as part of a species survival program. Red pandas, which are native to Asia, are listed as endangered because of poaching and habitat loss.

As required, the red pandas were immediately quarantined in their new home. Because they did not come into contact with soil or leaves in B.C. and because the disease is not common in the province, it's likely Rakesh was infected before leaving Manitoba, said Henderson in the release.

"We're unaware of anything like that occurring here," Assiniboine Park Zoo spokeswoman Stephanie Kababie told Postmedia. "We're looking deeper into it."

The Greater Vancouver Zoo is waiting for more test results from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

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