Giant panda lovers have a reason to feel a little melancholy this week, as the world’s oldest captive giant panda passed away Wednesday morning at the astounding age of 37.
Image Credit: Skeeze/Pixabay
Having been decades older than many of her fellow giant pandas, Basi was starting to reach an age where each additional day was a blessing. In fact, experts say a giant panda living to be 37 years old is tantamount to a human living more than 100 years.
Basi lived at the Straits Giant Panda Research and Exchange Center in southeastern China, where she spent most of her life after getting rescued from a river at a young age.
Although she traveled from time to time on loan, one could safely say that Straits Giant Panda Research and Exchange Center was her official home.
Captive giant pandas typically live longer than their wild counterparts because of the top-notch care they receive from animal experts rather than being left to their own devices in the wild. Nevertheless, even having the best care doesn’t mean an animal will live for eternity.
A plethora of factors reportedly led to Basi’s death. In addition to old age, giant panda experts from Straits Giant Panda Research and Exchange Center say she was suffering from health problems like liver cirrhosis and kidney failure.
Worthy of note, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the giant panda on its Red List as a vulnerable species. The creatures were previously considered an endangered species, but conservation efforts appear to have paid off. Habitat loss plays a significant role in their vulnerable status, but one can’t simply turn a blind eye towards the animals' low reproductive rate either.
The loss of Basi will sting for years to come, not only because she was a popular local attraction, but also because she was a record-holder and an inspiration to the 1990 Asian Games mascot.
One can only hope that other giant pandas will live as long and fulfilling lives as Basi did; or if they're lucky, perhaps they'll live longer than 37 years and set a new record.