Critically-endangered red panda moving from Oklahoma City Zoo to Nebraska

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OKLAHOMA CITY – An adorable resident at the Oklahoma City Zoo got a very important wellness check-up on Thursday.

Wasabi, a red panda, is moving north to the Omaha Zoo in Nebraska as part of a cooperative effort between zoos to help the endangered species survive and multiply.

“We want to make sure we maintain good genetic diversity, so we do move animals around quite a bit so that they can breed with other animals and maintain genetic diversity. We don’t want Wasabi to stay here and accidentally breed with her father. We want to make sure she breeds with an unrelated male,” said Jennifer D’Agostino, with the Oklahoma City Zoo’s Veterinary Services.

Red pandas are a critically endangered species that live in the Himalaya regions of Nepal.

For the record, red pandas are more closely related to raccoons than pandas.

The red pandas will make a short move at the Oklahoma City Zoo when the Asia exhibit opens later this summer.