Experts have weighed in on some online rumors about the Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand abusing the giant panda Linhui after images showing the animal’s rotten teeth circulated on social media. They said Linhui’s dental problems probably came from eating bamboo that is too thick and hard, Chengdu Daily Commercial reported.
A social media post on Sept 2 by Sing Sian Yer Pao Daily, a Mandarin language newspaper in Thailand, mentioned an online video of Linhui having difficulty eating an apple because her teeth suffered from severe abrasions. Netizens started to question whether the Chiang Mai Zoo had been mistreating Linhui by feeding her cheap bamboo.
The Sing Sian Daily also learned that funding for giant pandas in Thailand is low, at only 1,200 yuan ($200) a month for food.
In a response to Sing Sian Daily’s questions, the Chiang Mai Zoo said it had noticed abnormal enamel erosion on Linhui’s teeth about half a year ago. After consulting with Chinese experts and doing an X-ray at the Chiang Mai University clinic, they concluded that it was mostly a genetic problem.
An expert interviewed by the Chengdu Commercial Daily pointed out that the pandas born at the Wolong Panda Reserve in Sichuan province, Linhui’s home town, feed on tender bamboo, but the bamboo in Thailand is usually harder and thicker and could harm the panda’s precious wittle teefs.
Linhui was born in 2001 at the Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas in Wolong. She was sent to the Chiang Mai Zoo in 2003 as part of a 10-year conservation program to help breed more pandas, because lord knows they won’t initiate doing the deed on their own.