Last Sunday, the world’s oldest panda in captivity passed away. Jia Jia spent her final day at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park, which was home for the last 17 years of her life. At 38, she had far surpassed the natural life expectancy for pandas, becoming a kind of national celebrity and making her death that much harder for locals to bear.
Jia Jia first came to Hong Kong in 1999. She and her mate An An, now 30 years old, created a widespread sensation upon their arrival. An An is currently the second oldest male panda in captivity. Pandas typically do not live past the age of 20 in the wild, and maybe a few years more than that when under human care. Ocean Park officials say her longevity is a testament to the devoted care she received there.
Like any human who lived long enough to be 114 (Jia Jia’s age in human years), she began to succumb to physical maladies typical in old age. High blood pressure, arthritis, and cataracts were among the ailments that plagued her in her final years. Jia Jia had also suddenly lost weight and her appetite, prompting veterinarians to make the decision to ease her suffering and euthanize her early this week. Ocean Park chairman Leo Kung said, “(She) was a member of our family who spent 17 wonderful years with the Hong Kong people, and she will be deeply missed.” Rest in peace, Jia Jia.