A ZOO has announced the death of one of its animals.

Wabash, a raccoon, died following a short period of ill health.

Affectionately referring to him as their ‘little trash panda’, South Lakes Safari Zoo announced that he had ‘passed away peacefully in his sleep’.

Wabash was a firm favourite with staff as well as the zoo’s many visitors.

He had a short spell of ill-health before he died.

A South Lakes Safari Zoo spokesman said: “We are so very sad to announce that our little trash panda, Wabash, sadly passed away peacefully in his sleep following a short period of apparent ill health.

“Keepers had noticed Wabash appeared to be very sluggish and under the weather one morning and kept him in for observation.

“Tests were carried out when his condition failed to improve, and the situation did at one time look encouraging as he started to eat, but sadly, this was a fight feisty little Wabash wouldn’t win."

The zoo said that tests had not yet revealed anything ‘out of the ordinary’, leading them to believe that he had died of old age.

They said: “Tests so far have revealed nothing out of the ordinary suggesting his passing was of natural causes due to old age.

“Sleep tight little Wabash.

“You will be missed by staff and visitors alike.”

Wabash lived in his enclosure alone and was due to get a new friend in the form of Mia the Racoon.

Mia joined the Safari Zoo late last month and is currently going through a month-long quarantine period before she was set to join Wabash in his enclosure.

Mia was hand reared and had been living at Wiltshire College for the past three years.

She is thought to be approximately eight-years-old.