- Pan Pan, believes to be the world’s oldest male giant panda, died aged 31, on December 28.
- He was diagnosed with cancer in June 2016, and his health had been deteriorating.
- Giant pandas are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, but Pan Pan sired over 130 children and grandchildren over his lifetime.
The world lost yet another celebrity in 2016.
On 28 December 2016, Pan Pan, believed to be the world’s oldest male giant panda, died aged 31 at the Dujiangyan base of the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda in Sichuan Province.
Pan Pan was an icon among giant pandas. These animals are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, but Pan Pan sired over 130 children and grandchildren over his lifetime. His descendants account for more than 25 percent of all captive pandas that survive in the world today.
Pan Pan was diagnosed with cancer in June 2016. However, an autopsy is being carried out to confirm the cause of his death, according to Chinese media.
“Pan Pan was the equivalent to about 100 human years, but he had been living with cancer and his health had deteriorated in the past three days,” Tan Chengbin, a keeper with the Conservation and Research Center, told Xinhua. “He had lost consciousness.”
Pandas International, a nonprofit based in Colorado, U.S., added in a blogpost that Pan Pan was “living a quiet, comfortable life in the geriatric wing of the Dujiangyan Giant Panda Base where he was given the very best of care. He fought a brave battle against cancer but ultimately it won.”
The world’s oldest male panda, Pan Pan, has died. He was 31. pic.twitter.com/6GdX3JQOJi
— AJ+ (@ajplus) December 30, 2016
Pan Pan was found by rescuers in 1986, abandoned in the mountains of Baoxing county. He was taken into captivity and named “Pan Pan”, meaning “hope”, according to Pandas International.
In captivity, Pan Pan was physically strong, fast and agile. He helped father more than 30 cubs, many of whom went on to have their own cubs. His oldest child is Bai Yun, who was born in 1991, and lives in the San Diego Zoo. His youngest offspring, Xin Yue, lives at the zoo in Suzhou. He has numerous other cubs all over the world, including Yang Guang of the Edinburgh Zoo, Lin Hui of the Chiang Mai Zoo, and Tuan Tuan of Taiwan Zoo.
Pan Pan died two months after the world’s oldest known female panda, named Jia Jia, passed away in Hong Kong at the age of 38.
Giant Pandas were once widespread throughout southern China, but are now only found in some parts of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Only 1,850 individuals are estimated to remain in the wild. The species was recently down-listed to ‘Vulnerable’ from ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List, thanks to a rise in their wild population from 1,600 animals in 2003. However, the pandas continue to be threatened by severe habitat loss that has resulted in smaller, more isolated populations.