(AFP) – Oct 2, 2010
BEIJING — Chinese experts sent to Japan to investigate the death of a giant panda on loan to a zoo have determined that the animal died of asphyxiation, state media reported Saturday.
Kou Kou died last month at the Oji zoo in the western port city of Kobe after it had received an anaesthetic so that veterinarians could extract semen from the 14-year-old male panda to impregnate his partner, Tan Tan.
Experts found that Kou Kou had suffocated when "objects in its stomach went into its lungs, leading to asphyxiation," the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Earlier, reports suggested the experts believed that the death could have been caused by an overdose of sedatives and were questioning why Japanese veterinarians were extracting semen outside the animal's mating period.
A breeding agreement between Beijing and Tokyo includes the stipulation that Japan pay 500,000 dollars in compensation if a panda dies due to human error, state media reported previously.
Xinhua said Saturday that China and Japan would settle the matter in accordance with their cooperation agreement on panda research, without providing further details.
The panda's death came amid the worst crisis in relations between the two countries in years, stemming from the collision of a Chinese fishing trawler and two Japanese coastguard vessels near disputed islets in the East China Sea.
It also comes after Tokyo's Ueno Zoo reached an agreement in July to receive a pair of pandas from China in a deal that will cost nearly one million dollars a year for the next decade.
The money is to be spent on protecting wild animals in China.
Giant pandas, a highly endangered species native to parts of China, are notoriously slow at reproducing in captivity.
There are just 1,600 pandas left in the wild. Nearly 300 others are in captive-breeding programmes worldwide, mainly in China, according to official reports.
Copyright © 2014 AFP. All rights reserved. More »