Jia Jia, 38, holds ti­tle as old­est panda in cap­tiv­ity

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By EVE­LYN YU in Hong Kong and HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu

The world’s old­est panda in cap­tiv­ity, Jia Jia, just cel­e­brated her 38th birth­day — the equiv­a­lent of 114 years old in hu­man terms — at Hong Kong Ocean Park this month.

The fe­male panda holds two Guin­ness World Records: the old­est panda ever in cap­tiv­ity and the old­est panda liv­ing in cap­tiv­ity.

The av­er­age life span for wild pan­das is 14 to 20 years, and 25 to 30 years for those in cap­tiv­ity.

Jia Jia, who was born in the wild in Sichuan prov­ince in 1978, was sent as a gift to Hong Kong in 1999 to mark the se­cond an­niver­sary of the city’s han­dover to China. She has been liv­ing in Ocean Park ever since.

Jia Jia’s good physique and the at­ten­tive care of the park have con­trib­uted to her longevity, said Elke Wu, the park’s ter­res­trial life sciences se­nior su­per­vi­sor.

A com­pre­hen­sive phys­i­cal checkup, in­clud­ing a look at Jia Jia’s eyes, teeth and blood pres­sure, is pro­vided on a daily ba­sis. Jia Jia also is re­warded with her fa­vorite food if she be­haves dur­ing pro­ce­dures like the tak­ing of blood sam­ples.

Wu be­lieves that Jia Jia’s health sta­tus is sat­is­fac­tory for her age. How­ever, the panda has been suf­fer­ing from geri­atric con­di­tions such as high blood pres­sure and cataracts. Jia Jia is given an­ti­hy­per­ten­sive drugs and eye­drops ev­ery day.

Though at least five kinds of bam­boo bought from Guangzhou are pre­pared for Jia Jia ev­ery day, she can be very picky.

Es­pe­cially in sum­mer when the qual­ity of bam­boo is com­par­a­tively poor, Jia Jia is in­clined to eat only bam­boo leaves, said Wu. The staff must coax her to eat more bam­boo shoots and other sup­ple­ments for a bal­anced diet.

Vet­eri­nar­i­ans have ac­cu­mu­lated rich ex­pe­ri­ence in treat­ing cap­tive pan­das’ dis­eases, said Zhang Hemin, chief of the ad­min­is­tra­tive bu­reau of the Wo­long Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve in Wenchuan county, Sichuan prov­ince. The Wo­long re­serve has the world’s largest cap­tive panda pop­u­la­tion.

“Like hu­mans, pan­das can suf­fer from hy­per­ten­sion, can­cer, dis­eases of the di­ges­tive tract, stroke and paral­y­sis,” said Zhang.

Con­tact the writ­ers at eve­lyn@ chi­nadai­lyhk.com

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LI PENG / XINHUA

Jia Jia, 38, gets daily check­ups at a Hong Kong park be­cause of her age.

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