The animal world is not immune to celebrity deaths. In 2016, we saw the tragic shooting death of Harambe the gorilla and now it has been announced that Pan Pan the panda died after a battle with cancer. The panda is famous for siring many pandas in captivity and is credited as having at least 131 panda descendants, which is 25 percent of pandas in captivity. Pan Pan the panda was 31 at the time of his death.
Giant pandas like Pan Pan are native to China and difficult to breed in captivity and have experienced continuing loss of their native habitat in China making it at one time an endangered species. Because of nature reserves, bamboo planting, farmer subsidies and commercial programs, the number of pandas in the world has increased.
Pan Pan, whose name means Hope, was born in the forests of the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan in 1985, but lived in captivity when he was just a few months old. The China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas issued a statement on social media which says, “In the past three days, Pan Pan’s condition rapidly deteriorated, losing consciousness and the ability to move and eat. He left us forever after rescue efforts by medical personnel proved futile. We hope that there is no more suffering from illness in heaven.”
The population of pandas living in the wild is estimated to only be around 1,864, which makes preservation of these animals a top priority. Pandas normally live about 20 years in the wild but can live much longer in captivity. According to the keepers of Pan Pan, at 31 he was considered to be close to 100 years old in human years.
The world’s oldest living panda is a 36-year-old female named Basi; the previous oldest panda named Jia Jia was euthanized in October 2016 in Hong King at 38.