(9 August 2012 – Hong Kong) Like all giant pandas throughout the world, Ocean Park’s four much-loved animal ambassadors An An, Jia Jia, Ying Ying and Le Le celebrate their birthday during the month of August. As part of Ocean Park’s year-long celebration of its 35th anniversary and to celebrate 34-year-old Jia Jia being recognized as the world’s oldest female giant panda under human care, the Park organised a birthday party for the giant pandas in recognition of their contribution to conservation yesterday. Seven-year-old Ying Ying and Le Le took delight in specially made icy birthday cakes, while An An and Jia Jia savoured longevity buns made with their favourite corn starch.
“Panda Grandpa” Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman of Ocean Park, offered an update on Ying Ying’s latest condition. He said, “When our animal care team discovered that Ying Ying entered her second annual estrous cycle in late February, not only did we promptly arrange for Ying Ying and Le Le to stay together so they could mate naturally, the team also carried out artificial insemination using Le Le’s sperm. Although the Park’s veterinarians and experts from Wolong eventually determined that Ying Ying’s estrous cycle passed without impregnation, as both Ying Ying and Le Le are still young, we are confident that Ying Ying would eventually become pregnant.”
Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director of Zoological Operations and Education, also shared latest updates on Jia Jia and An An. She said, “Jia Jia, the world’s oldest female giant panda under human care has already reached the age of 34, the equivalent of 102 in human years. Like other pandas in an advanced age, Jia Jia experiences various geriatric conditions, such as normal muscular pains, arthritis and high blood pressure. Under our professional care, her health condition is satisfactory, with good dental and dietary conditions. An An, who moved to Hong Kong along with Jia Jia 13 years ago, is also in excellent health, though he has high blood pressure, a common condition among older pandas. As a global pioneer in treating and caring for pandas with high blood pressure, Ocean Park will ensure they remain in good health by offering them the most suitable treatment and the best care facilities.”
Ms. Gendron added, “In addition to being a great conservation ambassador, Jia Jia has also been a model mom. During her time at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (Wolong) before moving to Hong Kong, she experienced 16 consecutive years of estrous, was pregnant for seven years and gave birth five times to six panda cubs, making her a true panda patriarch by any standard. Her daughter Guo Guo has also taken after her by giving birth five time to eight cubs, including Ping Ping and An An, the first set of pandas born after the Sichuan Earthquake worldwide.”
Ms. Cissy Ko, Operations Manager of Ocean Park's Terrestrial Life Sciences, has been caring for Ying Ying and Le Le since they arrived in the Park at the age of two. She said, “I have developed a deep emotional bond with Ying Ying and Le Le during these five years as I have witnessed their growth as if they were my own kids. Ying Ying, already an adult, has grown from 60 kg to 93 kg; Le Le, on the other hand, has grown from 70kg to 120kg. So they are both developing in excellent health. Despite having reached adulthood, they are still very playful – Ying Ying loves breaking branches when climbing trees while Le Le likes staying close to the panel for photo opportunities with guests.”
Dr. Zeman added, “Our wonderful giant pandas have enabled Ocean Park Academy, Hong Kong (OPAHK) to introduce six panda-related courses to instil conservation awareness among students from an early age. Nearly one hundred thousand students have taken part in these courses to learn about the importance of panda conservation.”
Ms. Judy Chen, Chair of Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK), thanked Ocean Park for their support of panda conservation and said, “Not only has Ocean Park been dedicated to taking care of giant pandas living at the Park, they have been tireless in helping conserve giant pandas in the wild. Starting from 1999, Ocean Park has donated HKD23,600,000 to OPCFHK in support of conservation, research and education projects concerning giant pandas. I hope everyone would help forge a brighter future for them by supporting their conservation.”
1. The exact birthday of An An and Jia Jia is unknown, as they are rescued from the wild.
2. The birthdays of Ying Ying and Le Le are 16 August and 8 August respectively.
*Special thanks to Häagen-Dazs for sponsoring the giant ice cakes and ice fruit platter for giant pandas Ying Ying, Le Le and Jia Jia.