The world's oldest giant panda in captivity, Jia Jia, has died at the age of 38 on Sunday (16 October) announced the Hong Kong Ocean Park where she had lived since 1999. The panda's condition had deteriorated over the past two weeks, with her food intake and weight dropping substationally, according to local reports.
On Sunday, Jia Jia, which means 'good', spent the day lying down and was unable to walk, said a spokeswoman for Hong Kong's Ocean Park. The decision was made to euthanise the giant panda. Before her death, she was diagnosed with arthritis, high blood pressure and cataracts in both eyes.
The park's chairman, Leo Kung Lin-cheng, told the China Morning Post: "Jia Jia was a member of their family who had spent 17 wonderful years with Hong Kong people, and she will be deeply missed."
A spokesman said that the Hong Kong government was "saddened" by the news and thanked the park for giving Jia Jia support and care, in a statement obtained by BBC.
Ocean Park's spokeswoman said it was too early to consider whether it would ask Beijing for another giant panda. The theme park still has three: Ying Ying and Le Le are both 11 years old, and both are healthy, the park said. The world's second oldest male giant panda in captivity, 30-year-old An An, is being treated for high blood pressure and arthritic pain.
Giant pandas are no longer an endangered species after rescue efforts by China, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The organisation has now reclassified the animal as only "vulnerable".
Over the past 10 years, panda numbers have increased by almost 17% in the wild, with around 2,000 outside of captivity. However, climate change could endanger the breed, by wiping out more than a third of bamboo, which forms a large part of the animals' diet, says IUCN.