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Locked [Animals] Beloved giant panda given to Taiwan by China dies aged 18 after seizures

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A panda given to Taiwan by China 14 years ago as a symbol of what were then warmer ties died on Saturday, after suffering seizures, Taipei zoo said.

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

China views Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to one day bring the self-ruled democratic island into its fold, by force if necessary.

โ€œOur medical team has confirmed that Tuan Tuanโ€™s heart stopped beating at 13.48 (0548 GMT),โ€ the zoo said in a short statement.

The panda was put under deep anaesthesia for CT scans earlier on Saturday, and the team decided to โ€œlet Tuan Tuan continue to sleepโ€ after the results indicated his condition was โ€œirreversibleโ€ and that he could no longer โ€œlive a quality lifeโ€, zoo officials said.โ€œIt would have been extremely painful and risky for Tuan Tuan to resuscitate him from the anaesthesia,โ€ said spokesperson Eric Tsao.

Vets first noticed Tuan Tuan, 18, was ill in August, when he began suffering seizures and appeared increasingly unsteady and lethargic.

Scans showed he had a brain lesion and he was placed on anti-seizure medication.

The zoo suspected Tuan Tuan had a tumour and he was moved into palliative care last month.

The seizures returned in the past few days, more frequent than before, and medicine could not ease the symptoms.

Fans mourned Tuan Tuanโ€™s death on social media, while the Taipei mayor, Ko Wen-je, thanked the panda in an Instagram post for โ€œbringing happiness to Taiwanese people and making Taipei zoo more wonderfulโ€.

Taiwanโ€™s top China policymaking body, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), hailed the pandaโ€™s role in improving ties with Beijing.

Tuan Tuan โ€œlet everyone know more about giant pandas and help promote exchanges between the two sides โ€ฆ MAC is saddened that he has passed awayโ€, it said.

The panda couple โ€“ whose names combined mean โ€œreunionโ€ or โ€œunityโ€ โ€“ had become huge stars in Taiwan. Yuan Yuan has given birth to two female cubs.


China has long deployed โ€œpanda diplomacyโ€ and the donation of Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan was seen as endorsing the presidency of then Beijing-friendly leader Ma Ying-jeou.

Beijing usually only loans pandas to foreign zoos, which must usually return any offspring within a few years of their birth to join the countryโ€™s breeding programme.

But Taiwan was granted an exception as part of a brief charm offensive China launched in the late 2000s, with Beijing fully gifting both Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan and any offspring.

Relations between China and Taiwan have been on ice since 2016 with Beijing severing official communications and government visits between the two sides scrapped.The worldโ€™s oldest male giant panda in captivity has died in a Hong Kong zoo on Thursday.

The panda, named An An, was euthanised at the age of 35, the equivalent of 105 years for humans. He was born in the wild in the south-western Chinese province of Sichuan in 1986.

Ocean Park Hong Kong, where An An had lived since 1999, said on Thursday that his health had showed steady signs of deterioration over the past few weeks, with his food intake declining, until he finally stopped eating.

โ€œOcean Park is deeply saddened to announce the loss of An An,โ€ Ocean Park said in a statement. โ€œAn An is an indispensable member of our family and has grown together with the park. He has also built a strong bond of friendship with locals and tourists alike,โ€ it added.


Ocean Park shared the news of An Anโ€™s death on Facebook and called on the public to send their condolences. Thousands have commented and posted photos.

An An and Jia Jia, the worldโ€™s oldest female giant panda, who died in 2016 aged 38 years, were gifts from the Chinese mainland. Two more pandas โ€“ Ying Ying and Le Le โ€“ remain at the same Hong Kong zoo.

In China, pandas are a symbol of harmony, friendship and peace. Outside China, they have been used as a part of Beijingโ€™s international diplomacy since the 1950s.

For many years, experts had worried that the animal was on the verge of extinction. Last year, Chinese officials said giant pandas were no longer endangered in the wild, but they were still vulnerable with a po[CENSORED]tion outside captivity of 1,800.




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