Taiwan, China mourn death of panda that keyed 'cross-strait exchanges'

11/19/2022 11:01 PM
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The Taiwanese and Chinese governments on Saturday express sadness over the death of giant panda Tuan Tuan (right). CNA file photo
The Taiwanese and Chinese governments on Saturday express sadness over the death of giant panda Tuan Tuan (right). CNA file photo

 Taipei, Nov. 19 (CNA) In a rare show of unity, the Taiwanese and Chinese governments on Saturday expressed sadness over the death of giant panda Tuan Tuan (團團), saying the panda, which China gave to Taiwan in 2008, led to positive exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.

"Tuan Tuan lived in the Taipei Zoo for more than a decade, bringing joy and good memories to people of all ages in Taiwan," said the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top agency handling cross- Taiwan Strait affairs, in a statement hours after the panda's death.

"He also allowed everyone to learn more about giant pandas and was conducive to cross-Strait exchanges," the MAC said.

The agency said that if the Taipei Zoo or Taipei government wanted to invite Chinese experts to Taiwan to participate in commemorative events, they could submit special applications to do so, and the MAC would provide the necessary assistance.

Meanwhile, Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮), a spokeswoman with China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said that after Tuan Tuan fell ill, China convened an expert team to maintain online communication with the Taipei Zoo and sent two experts to Taiwan to assist with diagnosis and treatment.

The Chinese government thanked the Taipei Zoo, expert teams in Taiwan and China, and all parties concerned for their efforts to treat Tuan Tuan and hoped that the two sides would continue their cooperation in the protection of giant pandas, Zhu said.

Tuan Tuan "is an important symbol of the peaceful development of cross-strait relations," Zhu said.

She said giant pandas deserve to be cherished by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and that both sides should seek to maintain this positive interaction.

The male giant panda died in his sleep Saturday afternoon after Taiwan veterinarians administered a larger-than-normal dose of sedatives to relieve him of his suffering from another series of seizures amid failing bodily functions.

Tuan Tuan began having seizures in August, and suffered from frequent seizures again this month.

A medical team put the panda through a CT-scan and checked his vital signs, which both showed that his bodily functions had no chance of improving and that he could no longer live a quality life, the zoo said Saturday.

Following an hour-long meeting, the team decided to continue to give Tuan Tuan sedatives to "make sure he would not wake up to more suffering," Taipei Zoo spokesman Eric Tsao (曹先紹) said.

Taiwanese netizens wrote comments mourning Tuan Tuan on local social media Saturday, such as "Tuan Tuan will live on in our memories," and "Thank you, Tuan Tuan, for being a part of our youth."

Tuan Tuan is one of two giant pandas China gave to Taiwan in 2008, the other being Yuan Yuan (圓圓), as part of a cross-Strait animal exchange program to mark warming relations with Taiwan at that time.

(By Lu Chia-jung and Christie Chen)

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