Jia Jia, the world’s oldest panda, was put to sleep in her enclosure today at the age of 38, or about 114 in panda years.
The giant panda, whose name means “good” in Chinese, was born in the wild in 1978 before being rescued in Sichuan province in 1980. In 1999, Jia Jia was presented to Hong Kong as a gift from the central government along with fellow panda An An. Jia Jia had lived in Hong Kong’s Ocean Park since then.
Jia Jia’s health had been rapidly deteriorating in the past two weeks from age-related issues that saw a rapid decline in her food consumption and weight. She was previously diagnosed with high blood pressure, arthritis and cataracts in both eyes.
On Sunday morning, she was unable to walk and spent the whole day lying down.
Ocean Park veterinarians along with vets from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department agreed to put the giant panda to sleep. The procedure was performed by Dr. Paolo Martelli, Ocean Park’s director for veterinary service, at about 6 p.m. in Jia Jia’s den in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Sichuan Treasures enclosure.
Leo Kung Lin-cheng, the chairman of Ocean Park, said of Jia Jia’s passing:
“Jia Jia was a member of their family who had spent 17 wonderful years with Hong Kong people, and she will be deeply missed.”
He also thanked Jia Jia for the wonderful experiences she brought to Hong Kongand all her visitors from around the world.
Ocean Park now has three remaining pandas including the 30-year-old An An, the world’s second oldest male panda in captivity. An An has also been diagnosed with old age-related issues like high blood pressure and arthritic pain. He is joined by 11-year-old giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le who are both in great health.
Pandas in the wild typically only live below 20 years while pandas in captivity can live much longer when they are cared for by humans.