September 15, 2017 3:00 pm
Updated: September 15, 2017 3:02 pm

Phoenix, the red panda, leaving Saskatoon zoo

Phoenix, the red panda, is leaving Saskatoon zoo to take part in a program to ensure the survival of his species.

Neil Fisher / Global News

A visitor to the Saskatoon zoo will soon be leaving.

Phoenix, a red panda, has been on display at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo for the last three years.

WATCH BELOW: Phoenix, the red panda, at the Saskatoon zoo

He will be leaving on Oct. 1 to take part in a program to ensure the survival of endangered species.

“Phoenix’s move is part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) developed by the (American) Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild,” explained Tim Sinclair-Smith, the manager of the zoo.

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“The SSP plans to grow and develop a long-term program for red pandas, and Phoenix will play a key role in the continued development of the program.”

Red pandas have recently been added to the endangered list as their population is estimated to be less than 10,000 in the wild.

One of the causes for the decline is due to a decline in habitat.

Red pandas are native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China.

READ MORE: Saskatoon zoo’s red panda gets a checkup

Sinclair-Smith is hopeful Phoenix will one day return to the zoo, but understands the importance of the project.

“We hope that one day red pandas will return to the Zoo, but for now our commitment is to the SSP and the important work it is doing to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse, and stable population for red pandas,” Sinclair-Smith said.

The zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and staff will be on hand to answer questions at the PotashCorp Ark Exhibit, where Phoenix is on display.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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