Some animals are blessed with long lives, exceeding the life expectancy for their species. Some even break records as the oldest of their kind in the world. These long-living creatures often become favorites among locals, who get to visit them decade after decade.
Sadly, one of these animals passed away yesterday: An An, the oldest male giant panda in the world, died at the age of 35.
The news comes from Ocean Park Hong Kong, where An An had lived since 1999. Giant pandas typically live about 14-20 years in the wild, though they live longer in captivity. It’s rare for giant pandas to live past 30, but An An defied all the odds.
According to Ocean Park, An An was 105 in human years. But after an incredibly long life, An An’s health began to deteriorate recently. “An An’s health deteriorated slowly but progressively in the past few weeks with a severe decrease in physical activities and food intake,” the park wrote.
As his health got worse, it was decided that it would be best to humanely euthanize An An. He passed away on July 21.
According to the New York Times, An An arrived in Hong Kong in 1999 with a female companion named Jia Jia. The female panda also broke records for her longevity: according to Guinness World Records, she was the oldest panda ever in captivity. She died in 2016 at the age of 38, or 111 in human years.
Giant pandas have long been at risk as a species. In An An’s lifetime, their numbers have improved, going from “endangered” to “vulnerable” thanks to conservation efforts, but they are still threatened by habitat loss.
After his passing, An An was remembered as a great ambassador for his species who won the hearts of park visitors for decades.
“An An is an indispensable member of our family and has grown together with the Park. He has also built a strong bond of friendship with locals and tourists alike,” Ocean Park Hong Kong wrote.
“We want to express our gratitude to An An for all of the wonderful things he brought the people of Hong Kong and our visitors from around the world, as he was a true ambassador of conservation and educational messaging.”
Rest in peace, An An. What an incredible and long life.
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