Giant panda symbolizing reunification with China dies at Taiwan zoo

(ORDO NEWS) — Relations between China and Taiwan have always been difficult, but in 2008, during a short period of “warming”, Beijing gave Taipei a pair of its national animals – giant pandas. And one of those pandas died before reaching the age of 20.

Taiwan seceded from the PRC in 1949 as a result of the civil war, and since then relations between the parties (each of which called itself “China”) have not been easy.

However, in 2008, during a brief thaw in international politics, the PRC gave a neighbor a gift by sending two giant pandas , who settled in the Taipei Zoo.

Both animals, male Tuan Tuan and female Yuan Yuan, were born in 2004 in China. It is significant that in Chinese the word “tuanyuan” means “family reunion”.

In Taiwan, the couple built a three-story pavilion that maintained the desired humidity and temperature. The pandas felt good and even managed to give birth to cubs in the zoo. They were expected to live for at least 30 years, like in the best zoos in China.

However, the happy life of Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan was interrupted in November of this year, after the male was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

Earlier this month, the PRC sent a couple of experts to Taiwan to help treat the animal. However, the veterinarians were unable to save the panda, and on the 19th, Tuan Tuan died after a series of seizures.

Significantly, relations between Beijing and Taipei deteriorated a year after the animals arrived in Taiwan.

And in 2016, the PRC cut off all contacts with Taiwan after Tsai Ing-wen , who advocated the independence of the island and the proclamation of the Republic of Taiwan, took the presidency there.

Giant panda symbolizing reunification with China dies at Taiwan zoo 2
Despite the best efforts of workers, the giant panda, a favorite of the public, has died

It is not known what fate awaits Yuan Yuan, left without a partner: China is unlikely to send a second panda, because these animals always act as a symbol of goodwill.

Giant pandas were last given as gifts to other countries in 1984, and since then China has only “rented out” the valuable animals, retaining ownership of them and any cubs they produce.

Today, the number of giant pandas is estimated at about 2,300 individuals, of which about 500 live in zoos around the world.

Despite strict protection (the death penalty is provided for killing a panda in China), the species is still in a vulnerable position due to habitat loss.


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