A baby red panda "adopted" by a zookeeper's house cat has died, officials at the Artis Zoo in Amsterdam announced today.
An autopsy on the tiny panda found its windpipe filled with milk, indicating it had choked to death.
The tabby cat, which had recently given birth, was recruited on July 1 after a mother red panda at the zoo rejected her two newborn cubs
The feline mother initially nursed both babies, but one was too weak and died a few days later.
Zoo officials had hoped the surviving cub would be able to suckle from the cat for three months before moving to a diet of bamboo and fruit.
In a message posted on the Artis Web site Friday, zoo officials said the cub had appeared healthy until its unexpected death last night.
The rest of the cub's adoptive family—the tabby and her four kittens—are in good condition, the zoo reported.
Fewer than 2,500 red pandas survive in the wild, and the species is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
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