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Ling-Ling Japans Only Owned Panda Dies

May 2nd, 2008 Posted in Breaking News

He would have been about 70 years old in human years but Ling-Ling the 22 year old giant male panda at the Ueno Zoo in Japan died on Wednesday of heart failure.? Zoon Keepers reported that the panda has been eating less and showed signs of strength loss since August of last year and recently began suffering from heart and kidney problems.

Ling-Ling, born in the Beijing Zoo in 1985, was given to the Ueno Zoo in 1992 in exchange for a Japanese-born panda to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

His death came just days ahead of a landmark visit to Tokyo by Chinese President Hu Jintao.? Japan’s prime minister has asked to borrow some giant pandas from China and zoo officials are hoping for an agreement that will bring another panda to Japan.

In the past China has a long tradition of offering giant pandas as gifts to foreign governments to improve ties, but now only leases the animals abroad as they are an endangered species.

Japan already leases eight pandas from China, and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told reporters he had asked for more.

Zookeepers tried but failed to encourage Ling Ling to mate with visiting pandas after Ueno’s female panda, Tong Tong, died in 2000.

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