Chinese Panda Loaned to Thailand Dies Suddenly

Panda Lin Hui fell ill on Tuesday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 20, 2023 2:15 PM CDT
Chinese Panda Loaned to Thailand Dies Suddenly
Lin Hui, a female Panda on a 10-year loan from China is seen eating bamboo at the Chiang Mai Zoo in Chiang Mai province, northern Thailand.   (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, File)

A giant panda on long-term loan from China died in a zoo in northern Thailand on Wednesday, six months before she was due to return home, officials from the Chiang Mai Zoo said. The cause of Lin Hui’s death was not immediately clear but she appeared to have become ill Tuesday morning, reports the AP, and her nose was seen bleeding when she laid down after a meal, said Wutthichai Muangmun, the zoo director. She was rushed into the care of a joint Thai-Chinese veterinarian team but her condition deteriorated and she died early Wednesday morning, he said.

Tewarat Vejmanat, a veterinarian who spoke at a news conference broadcast live on the zoo’s Facebook page, said the panda, who had a health check every day, was already at an advanced age at 21, though there had been no sign of illness or any difference in her behavior before she became sick. The life expectancy of a giant panda in the wild is about 15 years, but in captivity they have lived to be as old as 38. A Chinese Foreign Ministry rep said Chinese authorities would soon set up a team of experts to carry out a joint investigation into the cause of death.

How and when the cause of death would be revealed will be entirely up to China, Wutthichai Muangmun said. Under an agreement between the zoo and the Chinese government’s panda conservation project, an autopsy cannot be performed until a Chinese expert is present. Some Thai internet users speculated that air pollution in northern Thailand, which in recent weeks has spiked to levels considered dangerous to human health, contributed to Lin Hui’s death. The zoo staff, however, said that was unlikely, as Lin Hui lived in a closed space in an area of the zoo considered to have “the cleanest air.” (More giant pandas stories.)

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