Dearth of National Symbol Of China

Officials at a zoo in western Japan are looking into the fatality of a giant panda on loan from China and a $500,000 fine could be imposed if human error was involved.

The 14-year-old Kou Kou had been sedated last week and died of heart failure at the Oji Zoo in Kobe city. Kou Kou was being used to inseminate females, a hard process that often fails when pandas are in captivity.

Zoo officials said Friday they are investigating Kou Kou's death, and a team of Chinese officials has coupled them. The zoo faces a sentence of up to $500,000.

The giant panda is revered as a national symbol of China as well as of friendship between the two Asian neighbors. Only about 1,600 pandas live in the wild. Bookmark and Share