HONG KONG — An An, the world’s oldest male giant panda living in captivity, died Thursday at a theme park in Hong Kong.
He was 35, or 105 in human years.
Officials at Ocean Park, a marine mammal park, oceanarium and educational theme park, said An An was euthanized after signs that his health had been steadily deteriorating in the last few weeks, “with his food intake declining slowly but progressively.” By Sunday, he had stopped eating solid food at all, they said.
They added that An An had been largely inactive in his final days and had received medical care to alleviate discomfort.
Veterinarians from the park and the local Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department made the decision to euthanize An An in consultation with the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda.
“An An has brought us fond memories with numerous heart-warming moments,” Paulo Pong, chairman of the Ocean Park Corporation, said in a statement. “His cleverness and playfulness will be dearly missed.”
Visitors were invited to leave condolence messages in guest books outside the panda enclosure and on the park’s official Facebook page.
An An arrived in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong in 1999 as a gift from Beijing along with Jia Jia, who was the world’s oldest female giant panda. Jia Jia was 38 when she died in 2016.
Ocean Park has two other pandas, female Ying Ying and male Le Le, who arrived in 2007. Pandas are notoriously bad at breeding both in captivity and in the wild, and Ying Ying and Le Le did not succeed at mating naturally until 2020 (the pair has yet to reproduce).
Officials in China, where giant pandas are considered a national symbol, said last year that they were no longer an endangered species, reclassifying them as “vulnerable” now that there are more than 1,800 in the wild. An additional 600 pandas are living in captivity around the world.