Jia Jia, 38, holds title as oldest panda in captivity
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
Jia Jia, 38, gets daily checkups at a Hong Kong park because of her age.
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