Lin Hui, a 21-year-old female giant panda who was on loan from China, died suddenly on Wednesday at Chiang Mai Zoo in northern Thailand. Her death happened six months before she was scheduled to return to her homeland.
The cause of her passing remains unclear, although she appeared to fall ill with a bleeding nose on Tuesday. Zoo director Wutthichai Muangmun explained that Lin Hui’s condition deteriorated rapidly.
Tewarat Vejmanat, a veterinarian at the zoo, mentioned that Lin Hui underwent daily health checks and there had been no indication of illness or behavioural changes before she became sick.
China has expressed its sadness at the loss of Lin Hui, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin stating that a team of Chinese experts will soon be assembled to investigate the cause of her death in collaboration with Thai authorities.
Lin Hui’s male partner, Chuang Chuang, also resided at the Chiang Mai Zoo until he died in 2019 at the age of 19. The couple had arrived in Chiang Mai in 2003 on a 10-year loan, which was later extended for another decade.
In 2009, Lin Hui and Chuang Chuang became parents of a female cub named Lin Ping, who was born through artificial insemination. The couple even made headlines in 2007 when zookeepers tried encouraging natural mating by showing them videos of pandas having sex.
Lin Ping was sent to China in 2013 for what was initially planned as a one-year visit to find a mate, but she has remained there since then.
Some Thai internet users have speculated that northern Thailand’s recent surge in air pollution levels, deemed hazardous to human health, contributed to Lin Hui’s death. However, the zoo staff dismissed this theory, stating that Lin Hui lived in a closed space with clean air.