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Braving the wet weather following the recent flooding, red panda Kesari managed to escape from the Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh using a fallen tree, but was hit by a car.
Kesari had arrived at the wildlife park from Auckland Zoo as part of a managed breeding program and was already the mother of a set of twins and triplets.
When the Symbio team saw the fallen tree they started a full-scale search and rescue mission for the eight-year-old.
Tracking dogs were also used as part of the search efforts.
But when zookeepers eventually found Kesari, it was a bittersweet moment.
“Kesari had attempted to cross a major highway and was struck by an unsuspecting vehicle who was overtaking cars that slowed down to allow Kesari to cross,” Symbio zookeepers said.
Today they confirmed Kesari had been “laid to rest” as her injuries 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 zoo said.
“The team at Symbio, and Kesari’s zookeepers, are understandably distraught and devastated. Kesari is survived by her five cubs, Mohan, Phinju. Raja, Shifu, Makalu.”