July 31, 2023

Zoo Mourns the Loss of Kovu the Red Panda

Engaging resident will be deeply missed


The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium is deeply saddened to announce the death of our male red panda, Kovu.

Kovu passed away on the evening of Sunday, July 30th. On Friday the 28th, Kovu began displaying unusual behavior, including trouble walking. He was promptly taken to the Zoo’s veterinary hospital for an examination and treatment. Though his health declined quickly, he continued to receive supportive care in the hospital until his passing.

Kovu was nine years old and arrived in Pittsburgh in 2015 from Columbus as the Zoo’s second red panda. Charismatic Kovu charmed millions of visitors over the years, including guests who met him up-close during Wild Encounters while providing his favorite treat, grapes.

“Kovu was ‘Mr. Cool’ from the beginning; he was one of the most confident and friendly animals at the Zoo,” shared Lead Keeper Ray Bamrick.

Red pandas have a median life expectancy of ten years in the care of zoos. They are native to the Himalayan Mountain range and are threatened in their native bamboo forests due to habitat loss. Bamrick continued, “Kovu was here as a representative for his endangered wild cousins. He did such a wonderful job of raising excitement, awareness, and compassion.”

Kovu’s female habitat mate, Xia, will continue to greet visitors and receive wellness checks from the animal care team.

Kovu will be missed by visitors and Zoo staff alike. We appreciate the support of the community and encourage our guests to share photos and fond memories of their experiences with Kovu on our social media pages.