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New Red Panda Arrives at Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo

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Topf Wells, (608) 266-9069


Issued By: County Executive
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Female Red Panda from Edmonton Valley Zoo to be Paired with Male Red Panda at Henry Vilas as Part of North American Conservation Project


An 18-month old female red panda from Edmonton is now calling the Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo home, after flying here yesterday on board a private plane generously donated by a Wisconsin businessman.


Sha-Lei was flown from Edmonton to Chicago and onto Madison Wednesday on a plane from The Vollrath Co. in Sheboygan.  Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk’s office worked with Vollrath and their staff to help unite the young red panda with her new partner Chang Tan who has called the Henry Vilas Zoo home since 2007.


Sha-Lei and Chang Tan are being paired together as part of a cooperative Species Survival initiative sponsored by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and the Canadian Association of Zoos & Aquariums.  The hope is they will mate and their offspring will help develop new red panda breeding pairs.


“Thanks to The Vollrath Co. generosity, Dane County’s Henry Vilas Zoo is taking part in an exciting international effort to make sure this threatened species is around for many generations to come,” County Executive Kathleen Falk said.  “If all goes well, Dane County could one day be the birthplace of rare and adorably cute baby red pandas!”


Zoo Director Jim Hubing commented that “It is a privilege to welcome Sha-Lei and participate in Species Survival initiatives.”


As is the case with any new animal added to Henry Vilas’ Zoo collection, Sha-Lei will be given some time to get used to her new home before she’s put on exhibit, zoo staff have been informed of her habits and diet to help her better adjust.


Red pandas typically eat bamboo leaves and are native to the Chinese Himalayans.  There are fewer than 2,500 red pandas left in their natural habitat.




NOTE:  Please see the attached photo of Sha-Lei, probably the cutest photo ever produced by Dane County.

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