CHIANG MAI — Chuang Chuang the panda died from a heart attack, Chiang Mai Zoo announced on Tuesday.
According to the zoo’s autopsy, Chuang Chuang, 19, died from heart failure on 4:30pm on Sept. 16, prompting condolences and outcries alike against Thai zoo care on both Thai and Chinese social media.
“There were no wounds on Chuang Chaung’s body and no foreign objects were found in his windpipe,” the Tuesday announcement said. “The cause of death was due to heart failure, which resulted in oxygen deprivation of internal organs.”
The result was confirmed following a joint autopsy conducted by Thai and Chinese experts.
Shortly before he died, CCTV footage showed that Chuang Chuang was walking around his enclosure before he suddenly began to limp and then collapsed.
The statement also confirmed that an insurance company would have to pay financial compensation to China as outlined in the lending agreement. The contracted firm, Dhipaya Insurance, previously said the payout is about 15 million baht.
In the meantime, the zoo said it would continue to take the best care of his mate, Lin Hui, whose her fans said she was not as cheerful as before.
News of Chuang Chuang’s death prompted an outrage among some Chinese netizens on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, with some demanding the return of panda widow using a hashtag #SaveLinHui.
“Please cancel the lending agreement of giant pandas to Thailand! They are not well-raised and not worthy,” Weibo user @pangdingkafe said.
Officials said there are no plans to send Lin Hui back to China as the lending agreement has been extended until 2023. However, Chuang Chuang’s body would be returned to his homeland as specified under the agreement.
Born in Chengdu in 2000, Chuang Chuang arrived in Chiang Mai with Lin Hui in 2003, as part of China’s so-called panda diplomacy. The pair gave birth to a child, Lin Ping, in 2009, but she has since been sent back to China for mating.
The panda family became a national sensation, drawing thousands of visitors to the zoo. At the height of his stardom, he even had a 24-hour TV live stream from his captivity.
The average life expectancy of a giant panda is around 15 to 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity.