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World's Oldest Panda Dies at 37 Years of Age


The world's oldest giant panda named Basi that lived in a zoo in southeastern China has died at age 37 which is more than 100 in human years, the animal's handlers announced Thursday.

She made a then-rare visit to San Diego in the United States in 1987, where she drew more than 2 million visitors during a 200-day stay accompanied by fellow panda Yuan Yuan, and was the model for the mascot of the 11th Asian Games, held in Beijing in 1990.

After reaching the equivalent of more than a hundred human years, Basi passed away peacefully at her home in Fuzhou on Wednesday.

Only last month she received an entry in Guinness World Records as the planet's oldest living captive panda.

Basi had lived at the facility since being rescued from the wild after she fell into a river in southwestern China at the age of four or five, it said.

Remarkably, she was nearly killed as a youngster after falling into an icy river was but rescued by villagers from the Basi Gorge.

During her lifetime Basi, who was born in the wild, broke ground as the first panda to have cataract surgery.

She is popularly known among the Chinese as "Granny Basi" or "Pan Pan".

The average lifespan of wild pandas is 15 years, while those in captivity usually live longer due to better nutrition and living conditions. "Thank you for the sweet memories", said one user on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform.

Basi was never used for breeding and her death comes days after RZSS Edinburgh Zoo announced the latest attempt to artificially inseminate its panda Tian Tian had failed.

Giant pandas have a notoriously low reproductive rate, a key factor - along with habitat loss - in their status as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.

However, Basi did not go to the resort this summer as she "had been too old to move", Chen said.

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