Seneca Park Zoo welcomes new male red panda


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced a new member of the Seneca Park Zoo family Tuesday.

A red panda named Willie joins the female red panda, Starlight.

Officials say Willie, a five-year-old male, comes from Zoo Knoxville. He was born at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina, and was reportedly named after Willie Nelson, specifically an album called Red Headed Stranger. Despite the origin of his name, Willie is distinctive from Starlight based on his predominantly white face, while Starlight’s face markings are redder, county officials say.

“The Seneca Park Zoo continues to be one of our community’s most visited tourist attractions, with thousands of people and families visiting nearly every day. The red pandas have been such a terrific addition to the Zoo and have quickly become a favorite for guests of all ages,” Bello said in a press release. “It’s exciting to think about the prospect of red panda cubs in the Zoo’s future.”

“We are excited for Starlight to have a mate,” commented Interim Zoo Director David Hamilton, “Willie’s arrival is at the perfect time, as Starlight is now old enough to reproduce. What’s more, red pandas love cooler weather, so it’s a great time for guests to visit.”

Red pandas are native to foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, because their population, thought to be less than 10,000, has declined by 50% in the last 20 years

The Zoo is open daily and timed tickets are required.  They can be purchased at

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