Jia Jia – a female giant panda at a Hong Kong zoo, who is approaching her 37th birthday – broke the Guinness World Record for the oldest panda ever in captivity and the oldest panda living in captivity on 28 July.
Ocean Park zoo said it doesnt have exact records for her but staff believe her birthday is in August. The Guinness World Records said the previous record was set by another female giant panda Du Du, who, like Jia Jia, was rescued from the wild. She died in 1999 before her 37th birthday.
Jia Jias awards were officially recognised at a ceremony at Ocean Park, presided over by adjudicator of Guinness World Records, Blythe Ryan Fitzwilliam.
So I was here today to recognize two Guinness World Records titles for Jia Jia, Fitzwilliam said. The first being the oldest panda living in captivity and then the second title for the oldest panda ever in captivity.
The previous record holder for the oldest ever in captivity was actually in 1999. So you can see the difficulties in getting a panda to live even longer. It is really quite difficult. It has taken more than 15 years to beat that record.
The equivalent of 37 in panda years is more than 100 in human years, the zoo said.
Ocean Parks head of veterinary services, Paolo Martelli, said despite the fact Jia Jia was senile, has high blood pressure and suffers from chronic pain she had no life-threatening conditions, and he considered her to be in pretty good health for her age.
He added that it was rare for pandas to reach that age.
Pandas, typically, their life expectancy would be around 20 years. So Jia Jia being 37 is obviously well over that limit and it is rare, Martelli said. If you look by numbers only eight animals out of 397 alive now under human care have reached any age beyond 30. So thats a very, very small percentage of the panda population that live to that age. So we can say its quite exceptional to reach such an old age for a panda.
Pandas are endangered because most of their natural habitat has been destroyed for timber, farming and construction, conservation group the World Wildlife Fund said.
A Chinese government survey in 2014 estimated 1,864 pandas live in the wild, a rise of 1% from 2003.