Subject: Request to Save Panda Yaya and Lele of Memphis Zoo
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(Memphis Zoo CEO Jim Dean, Chairman Thomas C. Farnsworth III, Mayor Jim Strickland, ADI Animal Defenders International, ALDF Animal Legal Defense Fund, American Humane, World Animal Protection USA, Wildlife Conservation Society USA, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, In Defense of Animals, American Society of Mammalogists(ASM), WREG-TV, Buzz Feed News, Local 24 News, WMC Action News, The Daily Helmsman, Knox News Sentinel, Fox 4 Kansas CityKMBC 9, KFVS12 News, CNN, NBC, Fox TV, Memphis Flyer, CNBC)
 Complaint Form Submission:
Memphis Zoo: www.memphiszoo.org/contact-form
Memphis Congress Rep Steven Cohen: https://cohen.house.gov/zip-code-lookup?form=/contact/email
Tennessee Governor’s Office: https://www.tn.gov/governor/contact-us.html
USDA Animal Welfare: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalwelfare/complaint-form
US Fish &Wildlife Services: https://www.fws.gov/duspit/contactus.htm
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to express my dismay of the physical and psychological suffering of pandas YaYa and LeLe at the Memphis Zoo.
I am informed that YaYa and LeLe has been suffering from hunger, incompatible low-quality bamboos, lack of enrichments and excessive caging time, causing them to be underweight and malnourished.
From 2007 to 2012, the zoo has performed 4 artificial inseminations on YaYa which ended with 4 abortions and caused irreversible damage to her body.
YaYa has been tortured by parasite infection for over a decade, causing extreme itching and shedding. Her skin disease started in 2008 and 13 years later it has spread throughout her entire body. This fact is confirmed by Beijing Zoo in 2014 and 2020 yet the Memphis Zoo openly denies. YaYa may also have blood parasite problem but is unable to be confirmed without the zoo’s willingness for honest disclosure.
LeLe is in a slight better condition than YaYa, but he has had dental problems over the years. From the videos, he seems to have difficulty in biting and chewing bamboo. International panda fans have asked the Memphis zoo regarding the detail of LeLe’s dental condition, but Memphis Zoo has not responded to the requests.
The fact that LeLe is older than YaYa yet appear in better condition has raised my doubt on Memphis Zoo and AZA’s claim they’re both perfectly healthy. My doubt was raised even more when Beijing Zoo requested a remote vet diagnosis session but was rejected by Memphis Zoo.
Both pandas appear malnourished compared to other pandas in any given zoo worldwide. The cause might be insufficient bamboo and inadequate quality/type. Memphis Zoo claims that their 11 acres of bamboo farm is a major source of bamboo for BOTH pandas, yet research show that 17 acres bamboo farm may be sustainable for only ONE panda. Confirmed by Toronto Zoo’s 2013 media release, Memphis Zoo’s bamboo were sold to Toronto Zoo and later to the Calgary Zoo spanning at least 3 years. This no doubt caused shortage, since in 2016, Memphis Zoo asked for bamboo donation from locals to support YaYa, LeLe and Calgary zoo.
During the pandemic, Memphis Zoo has temporarily paused exhibitions. Through the 24-hr panda cam, fans found YaYa and LeLe locked in the den for up to 18 hours a day. This caused serious mental distress as pandas need big spaces. (e.g. Netherlands Zoo constructed 36000 sq.ft of space for their 2 pandas to roam freely and at will) YaYa and LeLe are showing serious stereotypical behavior INCLUDING SELF-ABUSE from excessive caging that could cause appetite loss. This is very dangerous considering pandas already have a poor rate of conversion from bamboo.
Furthermore, all animals in the world needs enrichment in environment and diet. YaYa and LeLe rarely receive any other supplements than bamboo (e.g. carrots, pumpkins, corn, wheat etc) This creates imbalance in nutrients on top of the already insufficient bamboo.
Due to Covid19, I have given the Memphis Zoo benefit of the doubt, as the Zoo has claimed financial hardship that led to gran-seeking, fundraising and local donor programs. But, according to panda fans who investigated their 2019 IRS return, there is 7.3 million in publicly traded securities, 7.1 million in salaries and only 3.5 million for animal cost. An outsider one might not know the whole story, but from the investments made, the zoo doesn’t seem to be in extreme hardship that justifies their continuous mistreatment of the pandas. The FREEDOM to roam in open spaces at will and occasional supplements doesn’t cost a leg; and I believe the actions of the Memphis Zoo borderlines violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
I sincerely ask you to investigate and communicate with the Memphis Zoo. If the bamboo supply, amount of professional vet and financial capability are indeed not guaranteed due to Covid19, then please send YaYa and LeLe back to their hometown in China where they get the scientifically correct treatment that senior pandas need.
The signed peition is viewable at www.change.org/savepandas
Thank you for your time and support!
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Memphis Zoo asking for bamboo donation in 2016