Chuang Chuang the giant panda dies at Chiang Mai Zoo

Chuang Chuang in 2009, around the time of the birth of his daughter in captivity at the Chiang Mai Zoo. Photo: David Spencer
Chuang Chuang in 2009, around the time of the birth of his daughter in captivity at the Chiang Mai Zoo. Photo: David Spencer

Chuang Chuang, a 19-year-old Panda on loan from China, died tonight at the Chiang Mai Zoo.

Zoo director Wutthichai Muangman said a forensic examination was underway Monday evening and the zoo would hold a news conference tomorrow to share what it had learned.

Chuang Chuang was born Aug. 6, 2000, at the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas in China’s Sichuan province.

He arrived at the Chiang Mai Zoo in 2003 along with Lin Hui, a female panda from the same research center, to begin a 10-year conservation program to breed giant pandas.

In 2009, the panda couple had their and Thailand’s first baby together: a little girl named Lin Ping. Her birth spawned a panda craze and 24-hour coverage on what was known as the Panda Channel.

At 19, Chuang Chuang wasn’t a cub anymore. The average panda lifespan is 20 years.

Update: Wutthichai said Tuesday morning that Chuang Chuang staggered and then fell to the ground. He wasn’t breathing and was pronounced dead after being rushed to Chiang Mai Animal Hospital.  A cause of death cannot be confirmed publicly until a Chinese medical team can examine the panda. Kannika Nimtrakul, a veterinarian on Chuang Chuang’s medical team, said she was shocked, as if she had lost her own son.

Related:

86 big cats rescued from ‘Tiger Temple’ now dead: officials

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