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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Chinese team in Thailand to probe celebrity panda’s death

Native to China, the life expectancy of a giant panda, a type of bear, is between 25 years to 30 years. The deceased, a male panda named Chuang Chuang, however, was 19.

world Updated: Sep 19, 2019 08:40 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Zoo workers lay flowers at a Panda statue days after the 19-year-old panda Chuang Chuang died at the Chiang Mai zoo, Chiang Mai, Thailand, September 18, 2019.
Zoo workers lay flowers at a Panda statue days after the 19-year-old panda Chuang Chuang died at the Chiang Mai zoo, Chiang Mai, Thailand, September 18, 2019. (REUTERS)
         

The death of Giant Panda in a Thailand zoo has led to an outpouring of grief and anger on Chinese social media, prompting Beijing’s decision to dispatch a team of experts to investigate the unexpected demise of the animal.

Native to China, the Giant Panda’s life expectancy is between 25 years to 30 years.

The deceased, Chuang Chuang, a male, however, was just 19.

The Giant Panda, a type of bear, is China’s national animal – other than the mythical dragon -- and occupies the place of pride and love among Chinese citizens.

Chuang Chuang died earlier this week at a zoo in Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand. Chuang Chuang along with female giant panda Lin Hui was sent to the Thai zoo from southwest China’s Sichuan Province for Chiang Mai in 2003 as cubs.

Since then, the pair had become one of the main attractions at the zoo.

Thai and Chinese experts were elated when Lin Hui gave birth to a female cub named Lin Bing in 2009; Lin was returned to China in September 2013.

The China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong Nature Reserve Sichuan announced Chuang Chuang’s death on its Twitter-like Sina Weibo account earlier this week. The announcement and related news were shared on Weibo millions of times.

According to a state media report, the unexplained death and unverified online photos allegedly show zoo caretakers feeding hard bamboo sticks rather than fresh bamboo to the pandas which upset many Chinese netizens.

Angry citizens called on the zoo to return Lin Hui to China as they feared that the authorities didn’t know how to raise the animal. The Chinese research centre has announced that it will send a team of experts to Thailand as soon as possible to investigate the death.

According to data quoted by official news agency Xinhua, there were more than 2000 giant pandas living in the wild in 2016, up from 1,114 in the 1980s.

The furry animals have played an important part in Chinese diplomacy – until the early 1980s, they were given away to countries as a mark of good diplomatic ties.

“However, the ‘give-away’ policy was put to an end in 1982 because of the decreasing number of the endangered animal. Instead, the ‘on-loan’ policy started, the Xinhua reported.

Now, China “rents” the animals to other countries. The rent money, which ranges from tens of thousands to millions of USD, is used to fund the conservation and breeding programs of the species.

First Published: Sep 18, 2019 22:58 IST

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