Old­est male panda dies

Pan Pan, 31, would have been 100 in hu­man years

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

Pan Pan, the world’s old­est male panda, died age 31 in Sichuan prov­ince at 4:35 am on Wed­nes­day.

An au­topsy is be­ing car­ried out to dis­cover the cause of his death, though the cir­cum­stances are not thought to be sus­pi­cious.

“Pan Pan was equiv­a­lent to about 100 hu­man years, but he had been liv­ing with can­cer and his health had de­te­ri­o­rated in the past three days,” said Tan Cheng­bin, a keeper at the Du­jiangyan base of the China Con­ser­va­tion and Re­search Cen­ter for the Gi­ant Panda. “He lost con­scious­ness and did not re­cover.”

Pan Pan was ge­net­i­cally linked to sev­eral pan­das at the Smith­so­nian’s Na­tional Zoo in Wash­ing­ton. A re­port on the Wash­ing­to­nian web­site de­scribed Pan Pan as linked to about one-fourth of the world’s pop­u­la­tion of cap­tive-born pan­das, in­clud­ing Tian Tian and three cubs raised at the Na­tional Zoo in Wash­ing­ton since 2005.

Though born in the wild in Sichuan’s Baox­ing county in 1985, Pan Pan lived in cap­tiv­ity from just a few months old.

“Panda Grandpa”, as he be­came known, was di­ag­nosed with can­cer in June, and also suf­fered from com­mon old-age con­di­tions, such as cataracts and poor den­tal health.

A re­porter from Xin­hua News Agency, who last saw Pan Pan on Dec 21, said he was in a “nurs­ing home” for el­derly pan­das, and though he was very thin, he was in good spir­its.

“When the keeper called his name and of­fered him food, usu­ally steamed corn­bread or fresh bam­boo leaves, he was able to re­spond and move out­side to eat,” the re­porter said.

Pan­das are no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to breed, but Pan Pan lived a par­tic­u­larly ac­tive life for a panda and fa­thered many cubs over the past 20 years, and is said to have had more than 130 de­scen­dants.

The av­er­age life span of wild pan­das is nor­mally 20 years, but those in cap­tiv­ity usu­ally live longer.

XUE YUBIN / XIN­HUA

A keeper feeds Pan Pan at the Du­jiangyan base of the China Con­ser­va­tion and Re­search Cen­ter for the Gi­ant Panda in Chengdu, Sichuan prov­ince, on Dec 21.

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