Cause of death remains unknown as Chiang Mai mourns loss of giant panda

The cause of death of Chiang Mai Zoo giant panda Chuang Chuang remains officially unknown as officials held a press conference this morning, Sept. 17 at 10:30 a.m. to confirm the panda’s passing.

Speaking to a packed media circus, zoo officials said that Chuang Chuang, known as Thewan in Thai and Kham Ai in Kam Mueang (Lanna) had been eating normally before collapsing yesterday afternoon, Sept. 16. Vets were quick to provide assistance but the panda was pronounced dead at 4:30 p.m.

Staff were informed of the death at 5:00 p.m. with the news making its way online during the evening.

Zoo officials told the media at the press conference that a team of panda experts from China are due to fly into Chiang Mai as soon as this evening to undertake an autopsy.

The Nation TV reports that there may have been “foreign objects” clogging Chuang Chuang’s trachea (windpipe) suggesting that the panda may have choked to death but authorities refused to comment pending the formal autopsy.

Pandas are known to live to up to 30 years in captivity be it that the usually only live to 15 to 20 in the wild. One theory is that Chuang Chuang may have simply died of old age.

The future of Lin Ping, the sole remaining panda at Chiang Mai Zoo remains in doubt. Although the agreement to keep the pandas expires in 2023, there have been efforts to breed Lin Ping which requires male panda company to make happen.