An 11-year-old red panda named Pip died last week at the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
The panda, born in 2008 and hand-raised at the zoo, contributed to the international Red Panda Species Survival Plan.
The co-ordinated breeding program that involves zoos across North America is intended to protect the genetic diversity of endangered species, the zoo said in an announcement on its Facebook page.
"We are broken-hearted to announce the death of Pip, the matriarch of our red panda family and conservation icon whose legacy lives on through generations of pandas across North America," the zoo said.
During her lifetime, Pip had five cubs, including one name Paprika that still lives at the Edmonton zoo.
A post-mortem exam was performed and final results are still pending. The zoo said its likely the panda died from natural causes.
"Pip was a beloved member of our zoo family and was a favourite of our visitors," the zoo said.