Taiwan residents mourn giant panda Tuan Tuan, slam Tsai’s indifference to his death
Published: Nov 20, 2022 09:17 PM Updated: Nov 20, 2022 09:09 PM

Tuan Tuan Photo: VCG

Tuan Tuan Photo: VCG

Residents from both sides of the Taiwan Straits slammed Taiwan island leader #TsaiIng-wen for her indifference, as she has not said a word about Tuan Tuan’s death, which formed a sharp contrast to her first-time condolences to #Biden’s loss of his beloved dog Champ in 2021.  

Residents from both sides of the Taiwan Straits expressed their condolences over the death of male giant panda Tuan Tuan – a messenger of cross-Straits bonds – and called on the secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to respond to the wishes of the people for thriving cross-Straits exchanges.

The Chinese mainland agreed to send Tuan Tuan and his partner Yuan Yuan to the Taiwan island after a visit of then chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) party Lien Chan to the mainland in 2005, and the pandas finally arrived in 2008. 

The two pandas featured a period of thriving exchanges between the two sides and sincere communication between the people on the two sides, the office of former Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said in a statement released on Saturday.  

“We hope that more animals like ‘Tuan Tuan’ would appear in the future to promote integration and people-to-people exchanges of the two sides. We also hope Tsai Ing-wen could practically promote civilian exchanges and clear up contradictions between the two sides,” the office said.

Lien’s office also expressed sorrow over Tuan Tuan’s death. The office said it hoped that more pandas could come to the island to live and multiply, and that cross-Straits ties could also welcome a blooming spring and peaceful communication.  

Ma and Lien are among many officials, celebrities and politicians from both sides who have mourned Tuan Tuan since its death was announced on Saturday. 

Netizens from both sides also continued to flood to social media platforms to send condolences over Tuan Tuan and the contributions it had made to promoting cross-Straits exchanges in the best period of the two sides’ relations.

They slammed Tsai for her indifference, as she has not said a word about Tuan Tuan’s death, which formed a sharp contrast to Tsai’s first-time condolences to US President Joe Biden’s loss of his beloved dog Champ in 2021, which angered some netizens who mocked and criticized Tsai for being Biden's "bootlicker" while turning a blind eye to people’s suffering in the COVID-19 pandemic.  

It is really sad and scary to learn that ideology can inundate a person’s basic human nature, some observers said. 

Tuan Tuan’s death indicated the end of a period of thriving communication between the two sides. The cross-Straits ties have reached the coldest hour, and spring would only come when the country is really reunified, they noted.  

Tuan Tuan had been fighting seizures since August and recent medical checks confirmed he was suffering from necrosis in the brain. The disease progressed rapidly, according to the results of magnetic resonance imaging scans the panda took on September 18 and again on October 22. 

It suffered three seizures on Saturday and was heavily medicated. They symptoms did not ease until extra doses were administered. Zoo veterinarians finally decided to let the animal pass away, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

Tsao Hsien-shao, a spokesperson for the zoo, told the Global Times on Saturday that Tuan Tuan's death was rather sudden and condolence events need some time to be prepared. 

There might be further checks and studies on Tuan Tuan's disease, Tsao said, noting that the zoo will try the best to preserve the body of Tuan Tuan. 

The Taipei Zoo will also try to use a new technology to preserve live cells into the biobank, Tsao said.

“We appreciated the best wishes and positive energy the public gave to Tuan Tuan when he was fighting the disease. Thank you all and we are also paying close attention to the health of the other pandas,” a staff member at the Taipei Zoo told the Global Times on Sunday.

Tuan Tuan and his partner Yuan Yuan came to the Taiwan island in 2008. Yuan Yuan gave birth in 2013 and 2020 to two cubs named Yuan Zai and Yuan Bao, respectively. Yuan Yuan and the two cubs are in good health, according to the zoo.

Some netizens also expressed concern about the reproduction of the pandas in the Taipei Zoo. 

The staff member from the zoo said that Yuan Yuan is too old to give birth again and it may not find another partner for her. As to the two cubs, Yuan Zai has already entered the rutting season, and the zoo will make a request for her mate with related organizations.