CHENGDU , China, Dec. 30 (UPI) — The world’s oldest male panda in captivity has died at age 31, China’s State Forestry Administration announced.
Pan Pan died early Wednesday at the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda in Sichuan province. The panda, referred to as “hero father,” was diagnosed with cancer in June, and in his last days stopped eating and moving, his keepers said. They added his health deteriorated rapidly in the three days before his death.
He was born in the wild but lived in captivity at the center for all but the first few months of his life. Although pandas are difficult to breed in captivity, his 130 descendants account for one-quarter of the world’s captive-bred pandas.
An autopsy will be undertaken to learn the exact cause of death, Tan Chengbin of the center said. The current oldest female panda is Basi, 36, who also lives in China.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature announced in September that the status of pandas in the wild was changed from “endangered” to “vulnerable” due to an increase in their numbers. An estimated 1,864 adult pandas now live in the wild, all in China. The State Forestry Administration added 422 more live in captivity. The IUCN has warned that climate change is predicted to wipe out more than one-third of the panda’s bamboo habitat and food source in the next 80 years.