Giant panda Le Le dies at Memphis Zoo in US
The Memphis Zoo in Memphis, US state of Tennessee, said on Friday that giant panda Le Le had died.
"Le Le was adored by his keepers, all of the staff at the Memphis Zoo as well as the City of Memphis," the zoo said in a statement.
Le Le, a male born in 1998, came to the Memphis Zoo with a female giant panda, Ya Ya.
Last December, the zoo said that the iconic duo would "make the journey back to China within the next few months" as the current giant panda loan agreement with the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens was coming to an end.
Le Le died in his sleep on Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for the zoo. His cause of death has yet to be determined, pending a medical examination.
"Over the last 20 years Le Le has delighted millions of guests, served as an exemplary ambassador for his species and remains a shining symbol of conservation partnership with the People's Republic of China," the zoo said on Friday.
Two other zoos in the United States -- the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia -- are housing giant pandas.