Celebrations took place Tuesday, July 28 at Ocean Park in Hong Kong as Jia Jia took her place the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living panda in captivity. Jia Jia was presented with a colorful cake of ice and fruit juice, as well as a handful of fresh bamboo shoots to mark the occasion, as her caretakers at Ocean Park noted that she is remarkably active and healthy for a panda of her highly advanced years.
Giant pandas typically live for around 20 years in the wild, with a slightly longer lifespan of 25 years expected in captivity. With Jia Jia marking her 37th birthday (here or there; her exact birth date is not known), she has made it to what is roughly equivalent to 100 in human years.
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Jia Jia has high blood pressure and joint pain—both somewhat common in giant pandas—as well as cataracts, and sleeps more than in her younger days, but she reportedly remains active by solving puzzles and playing with toys. As Ocean Park’s chief vet, Paola Martelli told the Guardian, “she is aging gracefully, just like your grandma.”
Jia Jia was given as a gift to Hong Kong by mainland Chinese authorities in 1999, alongside male panda An An, who will soon turn 29. Speaking to CNN, Martelli explained that while access to appropriate medications, comfortable surroundings and care have contributed to Jia Jia’s longevity, the world’s oldest giant panda is also reaping the benefits of being made of “good stock,” and got lucky in her genetic make up.
Images via Ocean Park, Wikimedia