Panda Tuan Tuan, who is kept at Taipei zoo in Taiwan, has fallen very ill in recent weeks and has been placed under palliative care which means he will only get sedatives to relief his pain, the zoo said in a press release on Wednesday.
Veterinarians first discovered the 18-year-old male panda Tuan Tuan was sick in August when he got seizures and appeared increasingly unsteady and weak. Scans showed he had a brain injury, and he got anti-seizure medication.
But earlier this week, Taipei Zoo said Tuan Tuan probably has a brain tumour, and that he was moved into palliative care after his health worsened.
Tuan Tuan will receive daily medications to reduce his symptoms and intravenous fluids to avoid dehydration and a vitamin-rich diet to help him maintain his strength, the zoo said.
In 2008, China gifted Tuan Tuan to Taiwan. Tuan Tuan lived with his breeding mate Yuan Yuan, and they had two children together.
China is known for loaning pandas to foreign zoos. Recently they gifted two pandas to Qatar. Panda diplomacy is the process of sending giant pandas from China to other countries as a tool of diplomatic relations.
From 1941 to 1984, China donated pandas to other countries. After a change in policy in 1984, pandas were loaned instead of gifted. Animal rights organizations have argued that sending pandas out of their habitat is bad for their health and questioned the practice of ‘gifting animals’.
“He (Tuan Tuan) was small and so cute when he first got here,” Heng Ling-lin, who visited Taipei Zoo with her children, told news agency AFP. “He was like everybody’s baby. It breaks my heart now to see him like this.”
Chinese veterinarians have expressed their desire to see Tuan Tuan and will arrive in Taiwan soon, zoo officials said.