EXPIRED: 07/27/10 – Quan Quan, 21, was really about 70 years old in panda years.
She was born in the wild but lived at China’s Wolong panda breeding center in Sichuan where she was affectionately called “heroic mother” because she had given birth to 7 cubs in her lifetime. She was so popular that she started to tour and was recently loaned to the Jinan Zoo. But her quarters at Jinan Zoo were getting way too hot, so keepers moved Quan Quan to a temporary shelter.
Big mistake for an endangered mom.
Unfortunately they moved her to a temporary space that was next to a former air raid shelter. That shelter had been rented by a guy named Yang who is a mushroom grower, and who had hired workers to disinfect the air-raid shelter. To do their job, the workers used a lethal combination of carbon monoxide and chlorine.
Even more unfortunate, holes had been drilled between the shelter and the temporary pen in 1995 in order to help cool the panda enclosure in the summer. The lethal gas made its way from the air raid shelter to the panda enclosure through those ventilation holes.
The mixture of gases caused Quan Quan’s lungs to collapse.
Giant pandas are critically endangered, with roughly 1,590 remaining in the wild, mostly in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.
There are currently around 290 giant pandas in captivity-bred programs, mainly in China.
Interestingly, at the same time that Quan Quan was poisoned, the Wolong Center was releasing 4 pregnant pandas into a tightly controlled woodland area, in the hopes that their offspring will have a “natural” upbringing and learn to fend for themselves in the wild.
Maybe one is a daughter of Quan Quan.