China says Thailand's panda died from heart attack

Beijing (AFP) –


A giant panda whose sudden death in Thailand sparked outrage in China last month died from a heart attack, according to a Chinese government agency.

China dispatched a team of experts to Thailand after 19-year-old Chuang Chuang died at the Chiang Mai Zoo on September 16. Pandas can live up to 30 years in captivity.

The panda had been living in an air-conditioned enclosure with female Lin Hui.

The pair were on loan from the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu as part of Beijing's so-called "panda diplomacy" and were supposed to be returned in 2023.

Chuang Chuang's demise became a trending topic on China's Weibo, a popular social media platform where people discussed the "suspicious circumstances" of his death.

Users criticised the zoo for giving him mature bamboo -- usually harder and used to make furniture -- as food, though it remained unclear if photos shared were actually of Chuang Chuang.

After an autopsy, a joint group of Thai and Chinese experts "unanimously" concluded that there was no trauma on the panda's body and no foreign body in his trachea, China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration said on its Weibo account on Tuesday.

The cause of death was "an acute attack of chronic heart failure" resulting in a lack of oxygen, it said.

Chiang Mai zoo director Wutthichai Muangmun told reporters at the time that before his death, Chuang Chuang was doing what he liked best -- eating bamboo.