CHIBA, Japan >> Futa, the red panda known for standing on his hind legs, reached the ripe old age of 20 in July at the Chiba Zoological Park.
Futa is long-lived for his species — in human years, he would be over 80. But he has been in poor health for several years, and the zoo has cut back putting him on public display.
Futa was born in 2003 at Nihondaira Zoo in Shizuoka City and arrived to the Chiba Zoological Park in March 2004 for breeding.
His standing pose caught the eye of the media, and Futa became highly popular. The zoo had 650,000 visitors in fiscal 2004; two years later, attendance grew to 880,000. A book on Futa was published, and there were even requests for him to appear in TV commercials.
Futa no longer stands on his hind legs, and during hot weather he spends most of his time lying down in his shed. In the morning and evening when the sun is less intense, he walks around on all fours.
In late June, the zoo set up a mini air conditioner in his enclosure, financed by crowdfunding donations.