World’s Oldest Panda, Jia Jia, Turns 37, Set To Break Record For Panda Longevity

Meet Jia Jia, a giant panda living at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park theme park. Jia Jia is not just another giant panda. At 37-years-old she is currently the world’s oldest giant panda. Jia Jia was born in 1978 in China and was later gifted to Hong Kong to mark the second anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain, News 24 reports.

The current world record for the world’s longest living giant panda was held by DuDu – who died at age 37 back in 1999. Jia Jia would need to live another year to break DuDu’s record. Her caretakers at the Ocean Park seem confident that she would be around to break the record. Jia Jia is already the park’s most talked about attraction.

Giant Pandas are known to live for an average of 20 years in the wild. With better care and no fear of predation and disease, they tend to live longer in captivity with the average giant panda living for 30 years. It is very rare for a giant panda to live well beyond 30 years. Another Giant Panda named Ming Ming was 34 when he died in 2011. Jia Jia looks to be a strong contender to break the record for the world’s oldest panda ever since she is relatively very healthy considering her age.

According to biologists, in human terms, Jia Jia is on par with a centenarian.

According to Grant Abel, the park’s director of animal care, Jia Jia is a rare case.

“It is rare for pandas to live to this age. It’s probably equivalent to someone, a human person, who would be over a hundred years of age.”

Jia Jia’s caretakers are planning to send an application to the Guinness World Records after the celebration of her birthday. They only know Jia Jia’s birth year. The exact day remains a mystery.

Jia Jia currently weighs 80kg and her vision and hearing are severely impaired, confirms Paolo Martelli, the park’s chief veterinarian. She also suffers from arthritis and has high blood pressure. Owing to her age, she walks very slowly and prefers staying inside her enclosure and doesn’t come out often to the exhibition area. She munches on her favorite food, bamboo shoots and leaves, all the time.

Jia Martelli recalls the first time he saw Jia Jia a decade ago.

“The first thing I thought when I saw Jia Jia was, ‘Oh my God, she’s so old, I’m going to be the one to bury her,” Martelli said. “But actually it’s been 10 years now. And she’s had a few ups and downs, but she always manages to bounce back and look surprisingly good for years after that,” he adds.

An endangered species, only 1,864 giant pandas remain in the wild.

[Image via Reuters]