Panda gifted by China to Taiwan as symbol of warm ties dies
Taipei Zoo confirms the death of a panda that was given to Taiwan by Beijing in late 2008, back when relations between the two were more cordial.
A panda that China gifted to Taiwan 14 years ago died on Saturday after suffering a spate of seizures, Taipei Zoo announced.
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 achieve reunification.
"Our medical team has confirmed that Tuan Tuan's heart stopped beating at 13:48 (0548 GMT)," the zoo said in a short statement.
The panda was put under deep anesthesia to take CT scans earlier Saturday, and the team decided to "let Tuan Tuan continue to sleep" after the results indicated that his condition was "irreversible" and that he could no longer "live a quality life," zoo officials explained.
"It would have been extremely painful and risky for Tuan Tuan to resuscitate him from the anesthesia," noted Spokesperson Eric Tsao.
Vets first noticed Tuan Tuan, 18, was ill in August when he began suffering seizures and appeared increasingly unsteady. Scans showed that he had a brain lesion, and he was placed on anti-seizure medication.
The zoo suspected Tuan Tuan had a tumor, 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 Tuan's death on social media, while Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je thanked the panda in an Instagram post for "bringing happiness to Taiwanese people and making Taipei Zoo more wonderful."
Taiwan's top China policy-making body, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), hailed the panda's role in improving ties with Beijing.
Relations between China and Taiwan have been on ice since 2016 with Beijing severing official communications and government visits between the two sides, as US provocations via the island continue.