Pan Pan the panda sadly passed away at the age of 31 this past Wednesday, multiple sources are reporting. According to Xinhua News, Pan Pan, who died in the Sichuan Province of China, was the world’s oldest living male panda.
Xinhua News reports that Pan Pan’s 31 years would have equated to roughly 100 human years. While it is described how Pandas held in captivity typically do live longer, their average lifespan is usually only about 20 years. In a video posted by CCTV News, Pan Pan can be seen celebrating his 30th birthday last year.
Per Xinhua News, Tan Chengbin, who is described as “a keeper with the Dujiangyan base of the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda,” said that Pan Pan had been battling cancer. According to Xinhua News, the cancer diagnosis was first made early this past summer, and Pan Pan was also dealing with “common old-age conditions.” During the three days prior to his death, Chengbin said that Pan Pan’s “health had deteriorated.”
Pan Pan was famous for his role in helping grow and save the giant panda population. According to Serenitie Wang and Ben Westcott of CNN, he has been called a “hero father.” Xinhua News also describes how he had acquired the nickname “Panda Grandpa.”
According to CNN, Pan Pan leaves behind a total of over 130 descendants, which include both his children and grand-children. Pan Pan’s descendants account for a whopping 25 percent of “all pandas” in captivity, per CNN. Members of Pan Pan’s family can be found in zoos located in various parts of the globe.
“His family is now living in zoos across the world, from California in the United States to Chiang Mai in Thailand and even all the way in Edinburgh, Scotland.”
CNN also discussed how pandas have been notoriously “difficult to breed in captivity.” In another article written by Laura Smith-Spark of CNN, it is described how a female panda is fertile for only a maximum of “three days a year.” The article further describes how the length of a pregnancy can range from “80 to 200 days,” according to data from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
According to CNN, Pan Pan had been born “in the wild.” However, at only “a few months old,” he was brought into captivity, where he lived until his death, per Xinhua News. While in captivity, he was able to provide “a breakthrough in China Panda breeding,” as CNN describes.
A representative of the Panda Conservation and Research Center described to CNN how Pan Pan had traits that made him different from other pandas, such as strength and natural wildness.
“He had a strong physique. Pan Pan was really fast and agile when he was young,” the spokesperson told CNN.
CNN describes how the China Panda Protection and Research center recently claimed that Pan Pan simply “stood out” among the other pandas, who were described as “sluggish” and “feeble.” Due to old age, Pan Pan eventually stopped breeding, but the research center recalls his “energy and vitality,” especially in the late 1990s, CNN describes.
Kevin Lui of Time describes how Pan Pan the Panda played a “vital” role in helping to increase “the world’s panda population.” BBC News discussed how Pan Pan’s name translates to either “hope or expectation,” which is quite fitting as well.
CNN also described how another beloved Panda, Jia Jia, passed away early this year at the age of 38, which the Inquisitr reported at the time as well. According to CNN, the oldest living panda is now a 36-year-old panda named Basi. A female panda bear, Basi lives in Fujian.
For as sad as the losses of Pan Pan and Jia Jia have been, there has also been some positive news surrounding giant pandas as of late. In September, the Inquisitr reported on how the giant panda had now been taken off of the endangered species list.
With only an estimated 1,864 giant pandas living in the wild, the International Union For The Conservation of Nature (IUCN) now classifies the species as “vulnerable” rather than “endangered” on their Red List of Threatened Species. Still, the “giant panda populations in the wild” have now seen a 17 percent increase over just a decade, as Christine Dell’Amore of National Geographic describes.
Although Pan Pan may be gone, his legacy, and what he was able to do for the giant panda, should live on forever.
[Featured Image By Karel Cerny/Shutterstock]