NSW zoo keepers have been left ‘distraught’ after an escaped red panda was struck by a car on Thursday.
A search had been underway after eight-year-old Kesari escaped from her enclosure at Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh.
Her attempt at freedom occurred after a tree fell onto her enclosure following recent heavy rain.
Kesari was laid to rest after suffering multiple injuries which veterinary staff concluded were “too significant to recover from”.
"Multiple fractures in the pelvis, and a significant amount of arthritis already present in the area, due to her age, deemed the chances of a positive and quality recovery too slim to put Kesari through the pain,” the wildlife park said in a statement.
"The team at Symbio, and Kesari's zookeepers, are understandably distraught and devastated.”
Zoo claims panda struck by overtaking motorist
Kesari’s death occurred after she attempted to cross a major highway.
While most cars slowed to allow the panda to cross, Symboi allege an “unsuspecting” motorist then attempted to overtake and ultimately struck her.
Zoo keepers were present following the incident and police helped escort them and the dying panda to a veterinary expert.
Prior to her death, significant efforts had been made to find Kesari which included the use of tracking dogs, drones and thermal telescopes.
Endangered red panda numbers plummeting
Kesari arrived at Symbio after being transferred from Auckland Zoo to take part in a breeding program.
With less than 10,000 individuals left, red pandas are listed as endangered and survive primarily in India and China.
It’s estimated that 50 per cent of their population has been lost in just three generations, primarily as a result of habitat loss and poaching.
Kesari's keepers report she is survived by her five cubs, named Mohan, Phinju. Raja, Shifu and Makalu.
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