The world’s oldest giant panda in captivity has died at the ripe old age of 38 – that’s the equivalent of approximately 114 human years.
Jia Jia died at Ocean Park in Hong Kong on Sunday, October 16. After a few weeks of declining health, the park decided to euthanize her to prevent further suffering. Typically, pandas live for over 20 years in captivity and slightly less in the wild.
“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,” Leo Kung, Chairman of Ocean Park, said in a statement.
“Jia Jia was a member of our family who had spent 17 wonderful years with Hong Kong people, and she will be deeply missed. We also want to thank Jia Jia for all of the wonderful things she brought the people of Hong Kong and our visitors from around the world, as she was a true ambassador of conservation and educational messaging.”
Jia Jia was born in the wild in Qingchuan County, Central China. She was rescued in 1980 and resided at the Giant Panda Breeding Centre at Wolong Nature Reserve before eventually being given to Ocean Park in 1999 as a gift from the Chinese government.
The park said their veterinarians reached the decision to put down the elderly panda after she had sharply lost weight over a two-week period and showed no interest in eating or drinking.
During the course of her long life, Jia Jia gave birth to six cubs in five separate births. That’s pretty amazing, considering the notorious difficulties involved in panda breeding. Thanks to decades of conservation efforts, however, the giant panda species has recently gone from “Endangered” status to “Vulnerable” under the IUCN Red List.
“Jia Jia, thank you for being with us throughout the years! RIP,” the park said in a Facebook post.