Big Picture

Jia Jia the oldest panda

It may not be a landmark birthday for humans, but turning 37 yesterday made Hong Kong's Jia Jia the oldest giant panda in captivity, and she celebrated in style.

The equivalent of more than 100 years old in human terms, Jia Jia was presented with a towering birthday cake made from ice and fruit juice with the number 37 carved on top, in her enclosure at the city's Ocean Park theme park.

"Jia Jia has achieved two Guinness world record titles - the oldest panda living in captivity and the oldest panda ever living in captivity," said Mr Blythe Fitzwilliam, adjudicator of Guinness World Records, during a ceremony at the park.

He offered her his congratulations, saying that it was an "amazing longevity achievement".

Jia Jia was born in the wild in Sichuan, China, in 1978 and was given to Hong Kong in 1999 to mark the semi-autonomous city's handover by Britain two years earlier. The previous record was held by a male panda called Du Du, which was also caught in the wild and died in July 1999 at the age of 36, in a China zoo.

Vet Paolo Martelli said Jia Jia is still "moving about", though she suffers from cataracts and high blood pressure. "She is sleeping more, so is doing everything less. But she is ageing gracefully, just like a grandma," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2015, with the headline 'Jia Jia the oldest panda'. Print Edition | Subscribe