The world’s longest-living male giant panda under human care, An An (安安), has died at the age of 35, the Hong Kong zoo where he spent most of his life said yesterday.
An An’s health had deteriorated in the past few weeks, with a severe decrease in physical activity and appetite, and he was euthanized by veterinarians early yesterday morning, said a statement from Ocean Park, an amusement park and zoo.
The park said he was equivalent to 105 in human years and that “the difficult decision” to put him down had been made for welfare reasons in consultation with Chinese experts.
Born in the wild of mainland China’s Sichuan Province, An An was one of a panda pair gifted to Hong Kong by Beijing to celebrate the second anniversary of the territory’s handover from Britain in 1999.
He and his mate, Jia Jia (佳佳), spent the rest of their lives in Ocean Park. They were a venerable pair — Jia Jia held the Guinness World Records for the oldest living panda and oldest panda ever in captivity when she died at the age of 38 in 2016.
A panda’s average life span in the wild is 14 to 20 years, the WWF said.
After Jia Jia’s death, her surviving mate led a rather solitary life.
He celebrated his 35th birthday last year alone with a Haagen-
Dazs fruit and bamboo ice cake surrounded by a number of handmade birthday cards from the park’s staff.
Pandas are a top choice of diplomatic gift from Beijing, and An An and Jia Jia enjoyed a fair degree of political clout for zoo-dwellers.
When they first arrived in the terrritory, then-Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) said that their names would inspire Hong Kong to be stable (“an”) and achieve great performance (“jia”).
When news of An An’s lack of appetite was announced last week, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee (李家超) called Ocean Park to express concern.
Ocean Park has set up condolence books in the exhibition hall that An An used to live in.
Within an hour of the park announcing his death, hundreds of tributes appeared under the social media post.
“Thanks for all the happiness you have brought us over so many years,” user “Tang Cc” wrote.
“I really can’t accept you passing away, but I also can’t see you suffering. I will be missing you,” user “Tuan Yuan Panda” wrote.
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