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Hong Kong mourns elderly gentle giant

By Huang Zhiling | China Daily | Updated: 2016-10-18 03:52

Hong Kong mourns elderly gentle giant

Panda Jiajia enjoys a cake in Hong Kong on July 28, 2015 as it becomes the longest-living captive panda in the world. [Photo/IC]

Jia Jia, the longest-living giant panda in captivity, was put to sleep on Sunday at Ocean Park in Hong Kong, where she was widely known for her fondness for playing with a lavender scented cloth and her gentle disposition.

As Suzanne Gendron, executive director of zoological operations, conservation and education at the park, observed, "How could someone not love her?"

Jia Jia turned 38 in August, equal to 114 human years, and held two Guinness World Records — the oldest giant panda in captivity and the oldest living panda in captivity. She was found as a cub in 1980 in the wilds of the Tangjiahe Nature Reserve in Sichuan province.

Hong Kong mourns elderly gentle giant

Jia Jia celebrates her 37th birthday at Ocean Park last year. ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY

In the past two weeks, her condition greatly deteriorated. She lost her appetite and her weight fell from 71 to 67 kilograms. On Sunday, she could no longer walk.

Veterinarians from Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department decided to spare her further suffering and she was put to sleep on Sunday evening.

Zhang Guiquan, deputy chief of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, said it was the right thing to do because her condition was beyond hope.

Gendron said Jia Jia's caregivers were deeply saddened but wanted her suffering to end.

Ocean Park is holding memorial events for Jia Jia inside the park and online. A video honoring her memory was uploaded to Ocean Park's social media page. A memorial board will be set up in front of the Panda House in the park on Saturday.

Before she was sent to Hong Kong, Jia Jia lived for 18 years at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan. There she gave birth five times, having six cubs, four of which are still living.

Three pandas remain at Ocean Park. Ying Ying and Le Le, both age 11, are in good health. An An, 30, is the world's second-oldest male giant panda in captivity.

Hong Kong mourns elderly gentle giant






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