The world’s eldest giant panda in captivity Jia Jia was given euthanasia on Sunday at Hong Kong Ocean Park, after her health condition deteriorated rapidly in the past two weeks.
Died at the age of 38, about 114 years old in human terms, the female panda had lost sharply her food consumption from more than 10 kg to less than 3 kg per day, according to a spokeswoman from the theme park.
Jia Jia had spent less time awake and shown no interest in food or fluids for the past few days. The panda’s condition worsened on Sunday morning when she was unable to walk and spent the day lying down.
To prevent suffering, veterinarians from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and the Ocean Park agreed to put her to sleep.
Leo Kung Lin-cheng, Ocean Park’s chairman, said Jia Jia was a member of their family who had spent 17 wonderful years with Hong Kong people, and she will be deeply missed.
He also thanked the panda for the wonderful things she had brought to Hong Kong people and visitors from around the world.
A spokesman with the Hong Kong SAR government said that it was saddened by the panda’s death and expressed appreciation to the theme park for its care for Jia Jia and the support of the giant panda breeding center at Wolong nature reserve in Sichuan.
Vets took the decision to put the giant panda down to prevent suffering, the park said.
In a statement obtained by BBC Chinese, a Hong Kong government spokesman thanked the park for providing Jia Jia with care and support and added that it was “saddened” by the news.The park in Hong Kong held a high-profile celebration for Jia Jia’s 37th birthday at her enclosure in July 2015.
Born in 1978 in the wild in Sichuan, China, Jia Jia was given to Hong Kong in 1999 to mark the semi-autonomous city’s handover by Britain two years earlier.
Pandas normally live to around 20 years of age in the wild, and 25 in captivity.