An An, the world's oldest giant panda, sadly passes away
Hong Kong - An An, the world's oldest giant panda, passed away on Thursday.
An An was euthanized after his health had been deteriorating for the past few weeks, according to a statement from Ocean Park, the theme park where the panda resided.
"An An lived a full life that ended at the respectable age of 35 – the equivalent of 105 years old in human age," the statement said.
Ocean Park Corporation chairman Paulo Pong said, "An An has brought us fond memories with numerous heart-warming moments. His cleverness and playfulness will be dearly missed."
An An was gifted to Hong Kong by China in March 1999, alongside a female panda named Jia Jia, who died in 2016 at age 38. Another pair, Ying Ying and Le Le, were gifted in 2007 and still remain in the park.
China's government regularly engages in a practice called "panda diplomacy" where they give the animal, which is considered their national symbol, to another nation as a gesture of goodwill.
Last year, officials in China reclassified pandas from extinct to "vulnerable" as their population in the wild reached over 1,800.
Ocean Park has encouraged fans of An An to leave messages of condolences on their Facebook page.
Cover photo: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP