China experts arrive in Japan to probe panda death

Last Updated: Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 23:56

Tokyo: A team of Chinese experts arrived
in Japan today to investigate the death of a giant panda which
was on loan to a Japanese zoo, a report said.

Kou Kou died last week of cardiac arrest after failing
to recover from an anaesthetic at the Oji Zoo in the western
port city of Kobe.

Veterinarians had sedated the 14-year-old male as part
of a programme to impregnate his partner Tan Tan, and were
seeking to extract semen from the male panda when he died.

The panda`s death comes at a time when relations
between the two countries are at their lowest point in years,
stemming from a collision last week between a Chinese fishing
trawler and two Japanese coastguard vessels near a disputed
island chain.

The three Chinese panda experts, including one from
the China Wildlife Conservation Association, will work with
the Japanese side to determine the cause of death, Jiji Press
news agency said.

A breeding agreement between Beijing and Tokyo
includes the stipulation that Japan pay USD 500,000 in
compensation if a panda dies due to human error.

Chinese experts believe Kou Kou could have died from
an overdose of sedatives and were questioning why Japanese
veterinarians were extracting semen outside the animal`s
mating period, Chinese state press reported on Monday.

Giant pandas, a highly endangered species native to
parts of China, are notoriously slow at reproducing in
captivity.

The death of Kou Kou 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.

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.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 23:56

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