Panda Tuan Tuan dies at Taiwan zoo

Panda Tuan Tuan, who was donated to Taiwan by China fourteen years ago, died on Saturday at Taipei zoo after suffering a series of seizures.
Chinese veterinarians check on giant panda Tuan Tuan, Taipei Zoo, Taiwan, November 2, 2022, credit: Taipei Zoo/Handout via Reuters

Panda Tuan Tuan, who was donated to Taiwan by China fourteen years ago, died on Saturday at Taipei zoo after suffering a series of seizures.

“Our medical team has confirmed that Tuan Tuan’s heart stopped beating at 13:48 (0548 GMT),” Taipei zoo said in a statement. The 18-year-old panda was sedated to take CT scans earlier Saturday. 

The veterinary team advised to “let Tuan Tuan continue to sleep” after the results from the scans showed his condition was “irreversible” and that he would no longer “live a quality life”, zoo officials said.

“It would have been extremely painful and risky for Tuan Tuan to resuscitate him from the anaesthesia,” spokesperson Eric Tsao said.

Vets first noticed Tuan Tuan was sick in August when he began suffering seizures and became increasingly unstable and weak. Scans revealed he had a brain injury, and he was placed on anti-seizure medication.

Last month, the zoo said Tuan Tuan probably had a brain tumor, and the panda was moved into palliative care. In the past few days, the seizures returned more frequently than before, and the zoo said that medicine could not ease the symptoms.

“Thank you for the growth and laughter of Taiwanese people,” Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je said on Instagram.


China gifted Tuan Tuan to Taiwan in 2008. He lived with his breeding mate, Yuan, and they had two children together. China is known for loaning pandas to foreign zoos, so-called panda diplomacy. Recently, China gifted two pandas to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup, which started on Sunday.

Animal rights organizations have questioned the practice of ‘gifting animals’. From 1941 to 1984, China gifted pandas to other countries. From 1984, pandas were loaned instead of given. 

Zoo officials said that Chinese veterinarians visited Tuan Tuan in Taiwan at the beginning of November. 

   

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