Old­est cap­tive panda Basi dies

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By HU MEIDONG in Fuzhou and HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu

Basi, the world’s old­est cap­tive gi­ant panda, died in Fu¬zhou, Fu­jian prov­ince, at 37 on Wed­nes­day.

She was more than 100 years old in hu­man terms be­cause one year for a gi­ant panda is equiv­a­lent to three or four years for a per­son, said Zhang Gui­quan, a se­nior panda ex­pert at the China Con­ser­va­tion and Re­search Cen­ter for the Gi­ant Panda in Wenchuan county, Sichuan prov­ince.

Basi is best known as the

orig­i­nal model for Pan­pan, the mas­cot for the Bei­jing Asian Games in 1990. The an­i­mal’s body will be pre­served and placed on dis­play in the Basi Mu­seum in Fu¬zhou, ac­cord­ing to Chen Yu­cun, chief of the Strait Panda Re­search and Ex­change Cen­ter.

Basi died of nu­mer­ous ill­nesses, in­clud­ing liver cir­rho­sis and kid­ney fail­ure, in the cen­ter at 8:50 am on Wed­nes­day after liv­ing in Fuzhou for more than 33 years, Chen said on Thurs­day.

The death of Basi has caused sor­row among panda lovers in the city.

Chen Ying, 17, of Fuzhou, spent more than 40 min­utes com­mut­ing on the bus to the Strait Panda Re­search and Ex­change Cen­ter to of­fer her con­do­lences.

“I came here a cou­ple of days ago but failed to see Basi. I felt it a great pity and was heart­bro­ken to learn on Sina Weibo that she has left us for­ever,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to Chen Yu­cun, a memo­rial ser­vice is planned for 10 am on Satur­day at his cen­ter so panda lovers can share their grief. Videos about her will be shown there ev­ery day be­fore the Na­tional Day hol­i­day, which falls on Oct 1.

A wild panda, Basi was born in the Basi val­ley of Baox­ing county in Sichuan prov­ince in 1980. She was saved by a vil­lager after fall­ing into an icy river in 1984 as she fled a pur­su­ing hyena. She was starv­ing at the time, as ed­i­ble bam­boo, the sta­ple food of pan­das, was scarce.

The vil­lager, Li Xingyu, named her Basi, which means both the Basi val­ley and nice in the Sichuan di­alect.

Basi cel­e­brated her 37th birth­day in Jan­uary. In Au­gust, Guin­ness World Records con­firmed her as the world’s old­est liv­ing cap­tive panda.

After she was res­cued from the wild, Basi first lived in the Feng­tongzhai Na­ture Re­serve in Baox­ing county in Sichuan. Then she was sent to the Fu¬zhou cen­ter where she was trained to ride a bi­cy­cle, shoot a bas­ket­ball and lift weights.

In 1987, she per­formed stunts in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia, for half a year.

In 1990, Basi be­came a house­hold name in China when she be­came the mas­cot of the Bei­jing Asian Games.

China’s fourth panda cen­sus showed that there were only 1,864 wild pan­das and 375 cap­tive pan­das world­wide by the end of 2013. Yang Jie con­trib­uted to this story.


Basi, the world’s old­est cap­tive gi­ant panda, is pic­tured at right at her 37th birth­day party in Jan­uary at the Strait Panda Re­search and Ex­change Cen­ter in Fuzhou, Fu­jian. Basi was best known as the model for Pan­pan, mas­cot for the Bei­jing Asian Games...

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