Mainland, Taiwan work together to treat ill giant panda despite strained cross-Straits ties
Published: Oct 28, 2022 09:42 PM
Giant pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan celebrate their 18th birthday with a big cake at the Taipei Zoo on August 30, 2022. The pair was sent by the central government as part of an exchange program to the Taiwan island in 2008, with their names combined meaning reunion in Chinese. Photo: CFP

Giant pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan celebrate their 18th birthday with a big cake at the Taipei Zoo on August 30, 2022. Photo: CFP

Officials and experts on the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are working together to treat the seriously ill giant panda Tuan Tuan despite the strained situation across the Straits since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's reckless visit to the island in early August. Authorities on the mainland are helping two experts from the mainland to go to Taiwan island as soon as possible to help treat Tuan Tuan, a mainland official said Friday. 

Ma Xiaoguang, the spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council, told media on Friday that the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda had formed a team of experts and kept close contact with Taipei Zoo since September after Tuan Tuan became ill. The center has continued to pay great attention to Tuan Tuan's situation and provided technical support, Ma noted. 

After receiving an invitation from Taipei Zoo, which requested assistance, on Thursday, the center made preparations to send two experts to help diagnose and treat Tuan Tuan. Related authorities on the mainland are helping them go through the required formalities, according to Ma. 

"We hope Tuan Tuan can get better treatment and care and pull through with the love and support from both sides," Ma said.  

Ma made the remarks after the 18-year-old male giant panda Tuan Tuan gifted by the Chinese mainland to Taiwan island in 2008 was found to have necrosis in its brain.

Tuan Tuan was found to have suspected epilepsy when it had a three-minute seizure for the first time on August 31. After the zoo immediately conducted a diagnosis and treatment, he recovered his appetite and activity and did not show further epilepsy symptoms until October 15, according to media reports.

According to a manager from Taipei Zoo, Tuan Tuan has been declining for days with his rest time increasing significantly. His food consumption and mental health have also seen sharp drops. He has weakness in its hind limbs and is walking with a gait that he did not have before, China News Service reported on Monday. 

The zoo on Thursday confirmed with media that they had filed an application with related authorities to invite experts from the mainland to help treat Tuan Tuan. Authorities on the island also told media the same day that they would try to facilitate the procedures as quickly as possible.   

The zoo told media that it would hold a press conference later to notify the public on related issues, including when the mainland experts will arrive, how long they would stay and how they would help to treat Tuan Tuan. 

Tuan Tuan and his partner Yuan Yuan were gifted to the island of Taiwan by the Chinese mainland in 2008 as a goodwill gift. The two pandas' names combine to form the word "reunion" in Chinese.  They have given birth to two cubs, one named Yuan Zai in 2013 and the other named Yuan Bao in 2020. 

Tuan Tuan's health situation has drawn concerns among the public on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

"Thank you for the happiness you and your family brought to me, now I will pray for you," a netizen on the island commented.

"Hope Tuan Tuan can pull through and witness the reunion of the motherland," said another netizen from the mainland on Sina Weibo.

Global Times