Giant panda Tuan Tuan donated by China dies at Taiwan zoo

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Giant panda Tuan Tuan donated by China dies at Taiwan zoo
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Vets first noticed the giant panda was sick in August. (Case)

Taipei:

A male giant panda donated by China to Taiwan as a symbol of warmer ties died on Saturday after suffering a series of seizures, the Taipei Zoo said.

“Our medical team confirmed that Tuan Tuan’s heart stopped beating at 1:48 p.m. (0548 GMT),” the zoo said in a brief statement that did not specify the cause of death.

Earlier on Saturday, a separate statement said the panda’s condition was “irreversible” and he could no longer “live a quality life”.

Vets first noticed 18-year-old Tuan Tuan was ill in August when he began to suffer from seizures and appeared increasingly unsteady and lethargic.

Medical scans showed he had a brain injury and he was placed on anti-epileptic medication.

The zoo suspected Tuan Tuan of having a brain tumor and he was transferred to hospice care last month.

Tuan Tuan and her breeding mate Yuan Yuan were donated to Taiwan by Beijing in late 2008, at a time when relations between the two were more cordial.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory and is committed to bringing the self-governing democratic island back into its fold one day, by force if necessary.

In a nod to this goal, the pandas’ names have combined to mean “meeting” or “unity”.

The couple became big stars in Taiwan and Yuan Yuan has since given birth to two little females.

Beijing has long deployed “panda diplomacy” and the donation of Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan was a perceived gesture to endorse the presidency of then-friendly Beijing leader Ma Ying-jeou.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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