A month after announcing the sudden death of a panda named Jin Yi at the Zhengzhou Zoo in Henan province, previously speculated to be linked to the animal’s “filthy” living environment, the zoo said on Wednesday that the death was caused by a parasite, Chinanews.com reports.
An acute attack of bacteria and a toxoplasma gondii infection caused acute hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, resulting in heavy bleeding, the zoo said. The panda died during the rescue process because of lung and heart failure.
Li Tongyi, leading veterinarian of the zoo, said toxoplasma gondii is rarely seen in pandas. “Jinyi had an overall health check before coming here and was checked every two years after,” he said. “None of them found any sign of illness.”
The zoo on February 13 announced that the seven-year-old panda was dead, days after staff members declared that she was “missing”.
The panda’s death raised questions about whether her described “filthy” and unsanitary sanctuary played a role in her sudden illness.
New York Times’ Sinosphere reported last month that local reporters who visited the zoo described living conditions where the “smell of feces was overpowering”.
The smell here assails the nostrils. Who could stand it?” the China News Service also quoted a visitor as saying. “Every time I saw the feces on the floor, I wondered how a panda could be healthy here.”
The protozoan parasite toxoplasma gondii can infect virtually all warm-blooded animals, according to USDA.gov including humans, who are most likely to pick it up from cats.
Li said that the zoo had improved management of the other pandas there and staff members increased sterilizing times.
[Image via ECNS.cn]