World’s oldest panda Xin Xing hailed for helping save species by having 36 cubs and 153 descendants dies aged 38

THE WORLD'S oldest panda in captivity has died at the age of 38 years and four months, Chongqing Zoo in China has announced.

Xin Xing, who was more than 130 in human years, was hailed a "hero mother" for having 153 descendants – including 36 cubs of her own.

The elderly bear died on December 8 due to multiple organ failure, the zoo in south-west China announced today.

According to a statement released by officials, Xin Xing was born in Baoxing, Sichuan, in August 1982.

She was then sent to live in captivity at Chongqing Zoo in June 1983, where she spent the rest of her life.

During this time, Xin Xing impressively gave birth to 36 of her own cubs – playing an important part in saving the species.

Giant pandas are renowned for having difficulty breeding for a number of reasons.

For a start, females only ovulate once a year in the spring, and can only conceive for around two to three days during this time.

In captivity, zoos of course have male pandas on hand for mating season – but this doesn't necessarily make it easier.

Pandas have to be "behaviourally competent" for breeding to take place.

Usually, female pandas also only normally give birth to a single cub.

In August, Xin Xing reached her 38th birthday and to celebrate the zoo organised a party featuring a cake topped with her favourite fruits.

Since October, however, her condition has deteriorated, with the zoo workers saying she became "lethargic and unwilling to eat".

The statement added: "Difficulty breathing, coughing, and unsteady standing occurred the next day.

"Abdominal distension began to appear on the 23rd, and bowel movements were difficult. 

"During the period, our park invited experts from medical units such as the China Giant Panda Conservation and Research Center and the First Affiliated Hospital of the Heavy Medical School for consultations."

Treatments failed, however, and Xin Xing died on December 8 – with the zoo saying they are heartbroken over her death.

According to the WWF, a panda's average lifespan in the wild is between 14 and 20 years.

They can, however, live up to 30 years in captivity – meaning Xin Xing reached an impressive age.

But she is not the first panda to hit such a milestone.

Jia Jia, who lived at a Hong Kong theme park, also got to the ripe old age of 38.

She died in 2016 at Ocean Park, where she had been since 1999.


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