Panda Picture Proves 'Dead' Bear Is Alive

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 11:17am

A Taiwanese zoo has released a "proof of life" photo of one of its giant pandas to counter rumours it had died.

Tuan Tuan is pictured behind bars with newspapers laid out in front of him to prove what day it is.

Taipei Zoo said 11-year-old Tuan Tuan, his partner Yuan Yuan and their cub Tuan Zai were all fine.

"We welcome everyone to visit them at the zoo," said its director Chin Shih-chien.

China's official Communist Party paper, Global Times, had reported that Tuan Tuan had died of canine distemper.

The story soon spread like fast-growing bamboo across the Chinese-speaking internet.

The paper later retracted its story and apologised for not checking its facts.

The death of the politically sensitive panda, a present to Taiwan from China, may have had deep diplomatic implications. 

Beijing has often used gifts of giant pandas, which only exist in the wild in China, to make political statements.

China claims that Taiwan, which is quasi-independent and self-governing, is part of its territory.

Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan were sent to Taiwan in December 2008 following the election of China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou as the island's leader.

Their combined names - Tuan Yuan - mean "Reunion". 

Rumours of Tuan Tuan's death emerged days before the inauguration of Mr Ma's successor, Tsai Ing-wen, whose party supports Taiwan's formal independence from China. 

Sky News (c) Sky News 2016

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