‘Symbol of goodwill’: China’s gift to Taiwan, beloved panda Tuan Tuan dies
Tuan Tuan, one of the two giant pandas that China had gifted Taiwan, passed away on Saturday (November 19). The Taipei Zoo stated "brief illness" as the reason for the panda's death. Although the medical reports did not state any immediate word on the cause of death, prior reports indicated that the panda was thought to have a malignant brain tumour.
After the detection of the tumour, two medical specialists were sent from China to Taiwan for assistance, AP reported.
Taiwanese press sources stated that Tuan Tuan didn't respond and was put into an induced coma on Saturday following a string of seizures.
The ties between China and Taiwan broke in 1949 due to a civil war, but the year 2008, marked a turning point. The same year, Tuan Tuan and his mate were gifted to the Taiwanese zoo. Both were born in China in 2004 and succeeded in having a pair of cubs in Taiwan.
As a gesture of goodwill, China sends pandas overseas, but it retains ownership of the animal and any offspring they may have.
However, since the pair's arrival, relations between the two countries deteriorated. China severed contact in 2016 when President Tsai Ing-wen, who supports independence, was re-elected in 2020.
Currently, the relations between Taiwan and China are very tense. With Taiwan standing stern to its independence entitlement, Beijing claims it to be a part of its territory. Many military drills were conducted by China after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to the island nation in a show of solidarity.
While the average life span of pandas is generally up to 15 to 20 years, this panda lived for nearly 30 years with human assistance.
The super lazy and cute animals, which are endemic to southern China, are an unofficial national symbol. Currently, about 500 pandas are thought to be living in zoos or reserves, largely in Sichuan, while 1,800 are estimated to be living in the wild.