Shui Ling, one of the four remaining pandas at the Beijing Olympic Panda House in Beijing zoo, quietly left its fans for good earlier this month. On July 5, Shui Ling died of mesenteric volvulus, a disease rarely found among giant pandas.
Shui Ling was a female panda born in 2007. She would have turned three this August. The disease, mesenteric volvulus, is a rare, but highly dangerous gut abnormality that can be triggered by an intense workout after a meal and a sudden climate change.
According to Jinghua Times, a dedicated fan of the giant panda, Ms Lu, said that she usually visited the Beijing zoo at least 15 times a month. Lu said she had noticed on July 5 that Shui Ling was nowhere to be found in the panda house.
On July 2, Lu said that she had seen Shui Ling sitting in the panda house in low spirits, uninterested in the bamboo leaves piled up beside her. Lu never saw Shui Ling again.
The panda keepers told her that since the hot weather started Shui Ling had not wanted to come outside.
Lu grew suspicious and contacted the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda on Monday, and finally found out that Shui Ling had died three weeks earlier.
The manager of Beijing zoo's Animal Practice section, surnamed Peng, admitted on Tuesday that Shui Ling had died in the early morning on July 5.
According to Peng, Shui Ling had lost her appetite and rarely moved around in the Panda house at the beginning of the month. Staff had tried treating her with antibiotics and cardiotonic shots, but Shui Ling's condition continued to deteriorate. The Beijing zoo requested help from the China Conservation and Research Center, and had an expert flown over to Beijing overnight to do a complete physical examination. Shui Ling died from shock.
A spokesperson for Beijing zoo told Jinghua Times, that, because the death was such sad news, they did not wish, nor did they think was necessary, to let panda-loving citizens know. There are no regulations on whether the zoo should report a panda's death to the public immediately after it has occurred.
Hearing the news, Li Han, a 23-year-old panda lover, born and brought up in Beijing, told METRO she was shocked, angry and disappointed.
"I can't believe it. I am a Beijinger and a panda lover, a panda has died in my city and I did not even know."
Chen Qinghua, an elderly visitor from Jiangsu province, was shocked to learn that a young panda had died.
"The zoo needs to be honest about this," said Chen.
On Thursday, METRO interviewed some visitors to the Olympic Panda House. Ben, a tourist from the UK was on holiday with his family.
Ben said he did not know how many pandas were expected to be in the panda house, and though he was sad to hear that one had passed away, given it was his first time to see the pandas, he already felt fortunate to see the other three.
However, his son interrupted and said "One died? I am upset! How did it die? We came just to see the pandas."