Le Le the Giant Panda from Memphis Zoo Dead at 25: 'Le Le Was a Happy Bear'
Le Le, one of the Memphis Zoo's giant pandas, has died. He was 25.
In a statement posted to its Facebook page on Friday, the zoo said that Le Le — which translates to "happy happy" — was found dead.
"Memphis Zoo is devasted [sic] to announce the passing of Giant panda 'Le Le,' " the zoo said in the post.
"Le Le was a happy bear that enjoyed apples, engaging with enrichment and relaxing while covering himself with freshly shredded bamboo. He had an easy-going personality and was a favorite of all who met and worked with him over the years," the statement read.
The Commercial Appeal, Matthew Craig/AP
RELATED: Giant Panda Twins Born in China Offer Much-Needed Hope for the Future
They continued: "Le Le was adored by his keepers, all of the staff at the Memphis Zoo as well as the City of Memphis. Over the last twenty 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."
According to Fox 13, Le Le showed no signs that he was sick, but had seemingly been eating poorly for a few hours one day due to a stomach ache. However, he appeared to resume eating well after that day, a Memphis Zoo veterinarian said, per the outlet.
As of now, no cause of death has been determined.
"We intend to find a reason for his passing," the veterinarian added, according to the outlet.
"We want the final examination to be absolutely as thorough as possible," a Memphis Zoo spokesperson said, per Fox 13. "But, we are thankful that it was peaceful and all indications are that case. In fact, he was thought to be sleeping. And, for that, we are thankful."
The Commercial Appeal, Yalonda M. James/AP
RELATED: An An, World's Oldest Male Giant Panda, Dead at 35
Le Le was one of the zoo's two giant pandas, spending the past 20 years with Ya Ya in Memphis, Tennessee. Le Le died months before he was scheduled to return to China with Ya Ya once the loan contract ends in April, according to Action News 5.
However, animal protection organizations, In Defense of Animals and Panda Voices, spoke out about the alleged lack of medical care and sustenance provided to the pandas by the Memphis Zoo.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
"It's beyond heartbreaking that LeLe died prematurely of neglect and inadequate care when he was so close to being returned to China," said Brittany Michelson, Captive Animals Campaigner for In Defense of Animals, in a press release. "Memphis Zoo blatantly failed him. His health was clearly suffering, yet no recommended changes were made to help him or YaYa. Memphis Zoo has demonstrated its inability to properly care for the pandas, and must not be allowed to exhibit them in the future."
"It is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge King LeLe has passed on to Panda Planet," added Tom Clemenson, spokesperson for Panda Voices. "We have fought very hard to bring awareness and change to the lives of giant pandas worldwide, that fight began with LeLe and YaYa at the Memphis Zoo. Our dedication of the past three years — preventing LeLe from dying at Memphis Zoo has unfortunately become reality. In the name of LeLe, we continue the fight to save YaYa. Please expect a full investigation to follow. We must Protect All Pandas."
PEOPLE has reached out to the Memphis Zoo in regards to the allegations made by In Defense of Animals and Panda Voices, but did not immediately hear back.