Chinese zookeepers found 21-year-old panda bear Quan Quan very ill last Thursday, but despite all efforts to revive her, she died.
According to Los Angeles Times, an autopsy revealed that Quan Quan died as a result of inhaling carbon monoxide and chlorine from shared ventilation pipes of a nearby air raid shelter that was being disinfected. Her lungs collapsed after being exposed to the fumes.
Army doctors, police and skilled veterinarians tried to save the bear, but she died after three hours in the hospital.
Sky News reports that a 48-year-old man was arrested and questioned in connection to the panda bear's death.
A mushroom grower had hired the air raid shelter to breed mushrooms, and then fumigators were brought in to disinfect the shelter. The vent between the shelter and zoo enclosure where Quan Quan was had been drilled in 1995 to help cool the panda enclosure during the summer months.
Quan Quan had been on loan to the Jinan Zoo from Wolong Giant Panda Research Centre since September 2007. She was the main attraction of the zoo and called a "heroic mother" for having given birth to seven cubs during her lifetime.
Since pandas are one of China's national treasures and on the endangered species list, experts say Quan Quan's death should increase pressure to improve the care of these captive animals.
"Pandas have died in Chinese zoos and breeding centers facilities because of malnutrition, stress, inappropriate breeding and poor veterinary treatment, said Kati Loeffler, veterinary advisor for the International Fund for Animal Welfare."
Loeffler said: "These pandas are being bred for a life in captivity. Why are they being bred? Just so they can circulate through zoos and live next to old air raid shelters?"