Ocean Park’s giant panda Jia Jia has become the longest living panda in captivity in the world as she is set to turn 37 this summer, the Guinness World Records announced in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

Giant panda Jia Jia cannot bear being reminded of her age. Photo: Ocean Park file photo.

Jia Jia beat the previous record holder Du Du of Wuhan, China, who died at the age of 36 in 1999.

Giant pandas live an average of 14 to 20 years in the wild. Those in captivity can live up to 30 years, according to NGO the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The Guinness World Records awarded Jia Jia two titles – “the oldest panda ever in captivity” and “oldest panda living in captivity”.

A ceremony to celebrate Jia Jia’s record breaking longevity was held at Ocean Park on Tuesday. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam attended the event and thanked Jia Jia’s breeders for taking care of her.

Giant panda Jia Jia bamboozled by all of the fuss. Photo: Ocean Park file photo.

Jia Jia was given to Hong Kong by mainland Chinese authorities as a gift in 1999 along with male panda An An, who will soon turn 29. She has given birth five times to six baby pandas, of which three are still alive and have been relocated to different panda facilities in China. Although Jia Jia’s birthday is usually celebrated in the summer, the exact date is not known because she was captured in the wild.

Jia Jia likes to eat bamboo, fruit and high-fiber biscuits, according to Ocean Park. She is now about 78kg.

Jia Jia contemplates her mortality. Photo: Ocean Park

Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director of Zoological Operations and Education of Ocean Park, said: “Given their advanced years, An An and Jia Jia are both in satisfactory health. Jia Jia takes regular medication for various conditions such as high blood pressure and arthritic pain, whereas An An has high blood pressure, which is common for giant pandas around his age.”

Hong Kong has two other younger giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le. They are both in good health, the Ocean Park said. Ying Ying, who is female, was sent to Sichuan earlier this year for the National Giant Panda Breeding Programme to increase her chances of getting pregnant. Li Desheng, Deputy Director of Sichuan Wolong National Nature Reserve Administration who was present at Ocean Park’s ceremony, said authorities are hopeful that Ying Ying would soon give birth to Hong Kong’s first locally born giant panda.

Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.