China Sends Expert Team to Taiwan to Help Care for Sick Panda

Panda diplomacy worked well in Taiwan this week, when a pair of Chinese giant panda specialists visited Taiwan to help with the treatment of a panda named Tuan Tuan.

It’s a rare moment of warmth between the cross-Strait neighbors, amid a recent rise in tensions, and the Chinese veterinarians will be there for some time to provide Tuan Tuan the best care possible.

MRI scans revealed that Tuan Tuan had a malignant brain tumor, and that the cancer was progressing. His Taiwanese care-givers suspected something like it, after he began to act very lethargic.

On Monday, the Consul General of China in Belfast, Zhang Meifang, said Tuan Tuan’s tumor was not as bad as was previously believed.

Zoo spokesperson Eric Tsao said the sides were pooling their knowledge and experience to provide Tuan Tuan with “the best treatment and the best daily care.”

Tuan Tuan and his mate Yuan Yuan were moved to the Taipei Zoo in 2008 during a particularly warm period of relations between the countries. China sends giant pandas to zoos all over the world to raise awareness of the extinction risk, and to improve relations with the host country, an activity that’s taken on the name “Panda Diplomacy.”

There are currently 500 pandas on loan living in zoos and sanctuaries around the world.

Wu Honglin and Wei Ming, the visiting Chinese vets have vast experience working with pandas at the main breeding and research center in Sichuan Province, one of the panda’s native homes.