Taipei Zoo to euthanize sick panda Yuan Yuan

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Taipei City Zoo officials are scrambling to find effective treatment for the pandas Tuan Tuan, and Yuan Zai after it was recently discovered that Yuan Yuan was infected by parasitic nematode worms known as, Baylisascaris schroederi.

Panda experts from China's Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary (四川大熊貓棲息地), who arrived in Taiwan last week, believe she has passed them on to Tuan Tuan and their cub Yuan Zai.

On March 13, zoo workers found Yuan Yuan unconscious and unresponsive in her enclosure. Zoo veterinarians were alerted and Yuan Yuan was moved into an examination room.

Using an intestinal pill camera designed for pandas, vets discovered Yuan Yuan had a serious intestinal worm infection. They're now worried that the nematodes may have migrated to her heart and lungs.

Researchers believe Tuan Tuan and Yuan Zai may have also been infected after either walking on contaminated feces and then manipulating bamboo or by nuzzling or licking territorial boundary markings.

Zoo medical staff have since examined Tuan Tuan and Yuan Zai. Both were also found to have the parasite, but their infections seem to be less severe.

Yuan Yuan's diagnosis however, is not good. Taipei Zoo officials have been discussing euthanizing her as well as having a public dissection much like Copenhagen Zoo recently did with its giraffe Marius.

Of course there is sizeable opposition to this plan. In recent days students and parents of young children have begun lodging official protests. Zoo officials have said they will announce their final decision next week.

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