Giant panda gifted to Taiwan from China dies at Taipei Zoo

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Nov. 19 (UPI) — A giant panda, which was gifted to Taiwan from mainland China has died after suffering a series of strokes at the Taipei Zoo, officials said.

The panda, named Tuan Tuan, was born in 2004 and gifted to Taiwan, along with his mate Yaun Yaun in 2008 during a period of warming relations between the two governments.

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China frequently sends giant pandas to other nations as gestures of good will but maintains ownership of the bears and their offspring.

China still considers Taiwan to be a rogue province and most countries, including the United States, do not recognize it as an independent nation.

China broke off contact and diplomatic overtures with Taiwan after the election of independence-leaning president Tsai Ing-Wen in 2016. Tsai was reelected in 2020.

In a rare show of unity, the mainland Chinese government sent two experts to assist the Taipei Zoo after reports that Tuan Tuan was suffering from a malignant brain tumor earlier this month.

Officials from both Taiwan and mainland China expressed condolences over the death.

“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 Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which handles issues related to mainland China.

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The Chinese government thanked the Taipei Zoo for its attempts to treat Tuan Tuan and expressed a desire to continue working with Taiwan to protect pandas.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Tuan Tuan “is an important symbol of the peaceful development of cross-straight relations.”