On Monday, the Smithsonian National Zoo announced that the red panda, Shama, had been euthanized due to severe brain swelling. According to the zoo's website,"The swelling is attributed to encephalitis associated with a microscopic parasite."
The female red panda began showing signs of deterioration last Wednesday, as handlers noticed she didn't finish her meal and seemed less attentive to her cubs. Soon after she became extremely lethargic and began head-bobbing, which is apparently symptomatic of a neurological disorder in red pandas. She was euthanized on Saturday.
Shama had just given birth last month, and her cubs are now being hand-reared by experienced zoo staff.
Shama nursing her cubs. (Washington Post)