Mayor slams April Fool panda joke

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iol pic wld yuan zai panda taiwand AFP Yuan Zai , the first Taiwan-born baby panda, climbs inside its enclosure at the Taipei City Zoo. Picture: Mandy CHENG

Taipei - An April Fool report claiming that one of Taiwan's beloved pandas had been infected by parasites and could be euthanised went “too far”, the upset mayor of Taipei said on Wednesday.

The story, published on the homepages of Next Media websites in Hong Kong and Taiwan, claimed that Yuan Yuan, mother of the first Taiwan-born panda cub Yuan Zai, was seriously ill.

“Taipei Zoo officials have been discussing euthanizing her... much like Copenhagen Zoo recently did with its giraffe Marius,” the story said.

The story sparked immediate concern from local media, and saw the concerned Taipei government rush to check with zoo authorities whether it was true.

“All the three pandas have been in good shape,” Taipei mayor Hua Lung-bin said, according to a spokesman. “We don't know the motive of the story. The joke has been taken too far.”

To help pacify concerns, the zoo released photographs showing an energetic Yuan Yuan at the zoo.

Panda-mania swept Taiwan after her cub was delivered on July 6 last year.

Since her public debut on January 6, the cub, Yuan Zai, has attracted more than 1.6 million visitors, according to zoo authorities. - AFP


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