Endangered red pandas flagged to be smuggled across the Chinese border in Laos were seized by authorities on January 14. Despite efforts to save them, three of the six rescued bears died.
The animals were discovered during a random inspection of a van travelling in northern Laos after being walked across an unmanned section of the border, ABC Australia reported. The six were given to the care of Free the Bears, an Australian wildlife protection group who have been operating in Laos since 2003.
A spokesperson for the group said the red pandas were likely suffering from “serious disease”, exacerbated by stress. They said it was the single largest seizure of live red pandas anywhere in the world. Credit: Free the Bears Laos via Storyful