Symbol of reunion with China, panda Tuan Tuan dies in Taipei

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Tuan Tuan, one of two giant pandas China gave to Taiwan as a gift, died Saturday after a brief illness, the Taipei Zoo said.

The cause of death was not immediately reported, but earlier reports said the panda was believed to have a malignant brain tumor, prompting China to send a couple of experts to Taiwan. earlier this month to help with his treatment.

Tuan Tuan did not respond and was placed in an induced coma after a series of seizures on Saturday, according to Taiwanese media reports.

Tuan Tuan and his partner, Yuan Yuan, were donated to the zoo in 2008 during a time of warm relations between China and Taiwan, which split amid civil war in 1949. Both were born in China in 2004 and managed to have a pair of puppies. in taiwan.

The average lifespan of pandas in the wild is 15 to 20 years, while they can live 30 years or more under human care.

Ties between Beijing and Taipei have declined sharply in the year since the couple’s arrival, and China cut ties in 2016 following the election of pro-independence-leaning president Tsai Ing-wen, who was re-elected in 2020.

China sends pandas abroad as a show of goodwill, but retains ownership of the animals and the cubs they produce. An unofficial national pet, the animals are native to southwestern China, breed rarely, and rely almost exclusively on a diet of bamboo.

An estimated 1,800 pandas live in the wild, while another 500 are in zoos or reserves, mainly in Sichuan, where they are a protected species but remain threatened by habitat loss.

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