There was plenty to celebrate today for female giant panda Jia Jia on her 37th birthday, with confirmation that she has set two Guinness World Records titles.
Jia Jia, who resides at Ocean Park in Hong Kong, China, now holds the titles for Oldest panda ever in captivity and the Oldest panda living in captivity, having reached the equivalent of 111 human years.
Jia Jia was born in 1978 and arrived at the park in March 1999, and has lived there ever since.
Previously, the oldest panda in captivity was Dudu, who was born in 1962 and lived for the majority of her life in Wuhan Zoo, Chengdu, also in China, until her death in 1999 aged 36 years, the year Jia Jia moved to Ocean Park.
Jia Jia's long life is particularly impressive as the average lifespan of giant pandas is only 18-20 years, and 30 in captivity.
Wild pandas were once found all over southern and eastern China and well into Myanmar and Vietnam, but sadly they are now considered one of the world’s most endangered animals.
Guinness World Records adjudicator Blythe Fitzwiliam, who was in attendance for the panda’s birthday party this morning to verify and confirm the exciting new records, said: “I am glad to be at Ocean Park Hong Kong today to officially announce that the Guinness World Records titles for the longevity of giant pandas under human care have been set by Jia Jia … Thanks to the attentive care of the Park for the past 16 years, Jia Jia has set a new longevity record.”
Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director of Zoological Operations and Education of Ocean Park, said, “Given [her] advanced years, Jia Jia [is] in satisfactory health. Jia Jia takes regular medication for various conditions such as high blood pressure and arthritic pain … Despite her poor eye sight, Jia Jia can recognise the familiar voices of her carers, some of whom have been with her for as many as 15 years. This gives her a strong sense of security.”