The oldest panda in captivity is about to break a Guinness World Record
Meet Jia Jia.
She's a giant panda in Hong Kong, and she's about to become the oldest captive panda to ever live.
Right now, the Guinness World Record title belongs to a panda named Du Du who died at age 37 back in 1999.
Jia Jia already holds the current record for being the oldest panda in captivity today, and this summer she'll match Du Du's record by turning 37. And Jia Jia's caregivers say she's in great condition.
For a panda, turning 37 is a very big deal. It's similar to a human living to be over 100 years of age.
Here's Jia Jia's story and what she does on a daily basis as she nears record-breaking history:
Jia Jia was born 1978 in the wild in China. She was later captured, and in 1999 was sent to Hong Kong as a gift.
Right now, she lives at Ocean Park, a theme park in Hong Kong. The park's animal facility is the only one outside of the Americas recognized for its superior animal care by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
For a panda, turning 37 is a remarkable achievement. "It is rare for pandas to live to this age," Grant Abel, the park's director of animal care, told Reuters. "It's probably equivalent to someone (a human) who would be over a hundred years old." Jia Jia does have some conditions that naturally come with age, but her caregivers say she's in great health. Here she is happily munching on some bamboo.
The average life expectancy for a giant panda is about 20 years. At 36 years old, Jia Jia's vision is severely impaired and her hearing isn't what it used to be.
Jia Jia usually avoids the exhibition area. Instead, she prefers to stay in the back where she eats mostly bamboo shoots. A giant panda in the wild will consume between 20 and 40 pounds of bamboo each day.
Bamboo shoots provide pandas with many of the nutrients they need, but Jia Jia also enjoys fruit and high-fiber bread to keep her going.
The park's chief veterinarian, Paolo Martelli, told media that it's hard to predict how much longer Jia Jia will live. At nearly 37 years old, though, she's still enjoying climbing the tall trunk in her backyard.
And yes, she can reach the top.
Pandas are the rarest animal in the bear family. As of July 16, 2015, there are only 1,826 left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The survival of their species is threatened by the constant destruction of their natural habitat for timber, farming, and construction.
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