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Oldest Captive Panda Alive Celebrates 37th Birthday

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Jia Jia, a female panda, celebrated her 37th birthday in Hong Kong. Thus she is in the process of setting two Guinness World Records.

The records Jia Jia holds are “oldest panda ever in captivity” and “oldest panda living in captivity” because on converting to human years the panda is about 111 years old. Jia Jia’s companion at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park amusement park is 29 year old An An who is the second oldest panda in the world.

The adjudicator at the Guinness World Records organisation, Blythe Fitzwiliam said that pandas are well-known but endangered species on Earth and acknowledged the Park’s attentive care for 16 years towards the pandas thus helping Jia Jia set a record.

The panda who held the record previously was DuDU, born in 1962, and who lived for 36 years till its death at China’s Wahun Zoo in Chengdu. Ocean Park officials celebrated Jia Jia’s birthday and accomplishment along with An An and 2 other pandas with a birthday cake and invited about 200 senior citizens as well as caregivers at the celebration.

When Hong Kong achieved semi-autonomous status, the China Central Government in 1999 gifted Jia Jia and An An to the country. Jia Jia, just as Dudu, was rescued from the wild and after settling at Ocean Park has been visited by about 27 million visitors.

Earlier wild pandas were found in eastern and southern China even wandering into Vietnam and Myanmar but are now an endangered species. However, according to WWF number has risen by 17% in the last decade with last count in 2014 being 1,864 living wild pandas.

The average lifespan of a giant panda is about 14 to 20 years in the wild and in captivity 30 years, therefore Jia Jia’s longevity is noteworthy. Ocean Park’s executive director of zoological operations and education, Suzanne Gendron said the two pandas were in good health despite their age.

Jia Jia is under medication for arthritic pain and high blood pressure, which is common for older giant pandas and also suffers from deteriorating eyesight due to cataract but can recognise caretakers who have been around since 15 years. An An suffers from high blood pressure too but is under medication to control it.

The chairman of the park, Leo Kung credited his animal care team and Sichuan experts for the care of the pandas and took pride in the achievements.

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