The world’s oldest panda was put to sleep yesterday at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park at the ripe old age of 38. That’s around 114 in panda years.
In 1980, when she was around 2 years old, Jia Jia was taken to live at a breeding center in Sichuan province. In the wild, giant pandas typically live for around 14 to 20 years. Jia Jia made it past her 38th birthday, becoming the oldest panda on record.
Unfortunately, for the past two weeks, her health began to deteriorate quickly. She stopped eating and eventually became unable to walk. To prevent further suffering, Ocean Park veterinarians decided to euthanize the record-setting panda that they had received as gift from the Chinese government back in 1999.
“This is a day we knew would eventually come, but it is nevertheless a sad day for everyone at the Park, especially for the Park’s keepers who took care of her over the years,” said Ocean Park Chairman Leo Kung Lin-cheng.
Jia Jia lived through an eventful 38 years for pandas. In the 1980s, the panda population dropped below 1,000 due to poaching and deforestation. But thanks to massive conservation efforts undertaken by the Chinese government to save their cuddly national symbol, the giant panda isn’t even endangered any longer.
The title of world’s oldest living panda now moves to Basi, a 36-year-old female panda living at a research institute in Fujian province. Long may she live.