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Taiwan zoo photographs panda with newspapers to disprove death rumors

By Ben Hooper

TAIPEI, Taiwan, May 23 (UPI) -- A zoo in Taiwan posted a photo of panda Tuan Tuan alive and well with a pile of current newspapers after rumors of the beloved animal's death reached Chinese media.

The Taipei Zoo posted a photo on Facebook showing the 11-year-old panda with a variety of current newspapers last week to counteract rumors that the bear, which was a gift to Taiwan from China, had died of canine distemper.

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The rumors of Tuan Tuan's untimely demise went mainstream on the Chinese-language Internet when they were reported on by the Global Times, the official newspaper of China's Communist Party.

The Global Times later retracted the story and apologized for not verifying the panda's death before printing the account of Tuan Tuan's death.

"Please do not believe online rumors," the zoo's Facebook post said.

The zoo said Tuan Tuan is living happily and heathily with his partner, Yuan Yuan, and their cub, Tuan Zai.

"We welcome everyone to visit them at the zoo," zoo director Chin Shih-chien said.

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