The world’s oldest panda, Jia Jia, celebrated her 37th birthday on Tuesday, July 28, earning her the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living panda ever in captivity, and the oldest panda still living in captivity.
To commemorate her special day, Jia Jia was presented with a colorful birthday cake made of ice and fruit juice, along with a handful of fresh bamboo shoots.
“I am glad to be at Ocean Park Hong Kong today to officially announce that the Guinness World Records titles for the longevity of giant pandas under human care have been set by Jia Jia… Thanks to the attentive care of the Park for the past 16 years, Jia Jia has set a new longevity record,” Blythe Ryan Fitzwilliam, the adjudicator of Guinness World Records, said at the panda’s birthday ceremony.
He added, “Jia Jia has achieved two Guinness world record titles — the oldest panda living in captivity and the oldest panda ever living in captivity.”
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Jia Jia was born in 1978, and has far exceeded the normal panda’s life expectancy of 25 years. In 1999, she was given to Hong Kong to celebrate the second anniversary of Britain handing over control of the city to China.
Now, at 37 years old, which is more than 100 years old in human years, Jia Jia is doing well, but remains on medication for high blood pressure and arthritic pain, Time reports.
“Despite her poor eye sight, Jia Jia can recognise the familiar voices of her carers, some of whom have been with her for as many as 15 years,” Suzanne Gendron, the Executive Director of Zoological Operations and Education of Ocean Park, said. “This gives her a strong sense of security.”
Fitzwilliam credits Jia Jia’s longevity to her adaptability, comfortable surroundings, and access to medications. Plus, he says, she “got lucky in her genetic make up.”
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The park workers explained that Jia Jia’s activities are quite advanced compared to that of other aging pandas, CNN reports. She spends her days working small puzzles, climbing hills, and playing with toys.
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The previous oldest living panda was Dudu, who was born in 1962 and lived most of her life at Wuhan Zoo, Chengdu, which is also in China. Dudu died in 1999 at the age of 36 years old.
[Photo via video screenshot]