World's eldest giant panda passes away

World's eldest giant panda passes away

Basi, the world's oldest captive panda, has died at the age of 37, equivalent to more than 100 human years, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

The Strait Panda Research and Exchange Center of Fuzhou issued a statement on Wednesday, detailing Basi's life in its last few months.

Basi's health began deteriorating in early 2017, and Basi succumbed to liver cirrhosis in September.

Born in the wild in 1980, Basi was discovered by villagers after falling into an icy river in the western province of Sichuan at age 4 and sent to the breeding center in Fuzhou.

She also played a part in global diplomacy, visiting the US in the 1980s where she drew in more than two million visitors to San Diego Zoo during her short stay.

Shi took good care of Basi for 27 years, especially during the panda's recovery from high blood pressure and cataract surgery.

"She once brought us joy here, and we wish to leave the fragrance here for her", Xiu Yunfang, deputy director of the facility in the city of Fuzhou, told state television, per AFP. She was a star in China and the U.S. She was recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living giant panda in captivity in August.

Basi's body was surrounded by yellow flowers during her memorial service, while white roses were arranged in the shape of a heart were laid in front of the bear's favourite tree.

Basi outlived most of her peers by almost two decades - Pandas in the wild have an average lifespan of about 20 years, but those in captivity generally live longer.

There are now only thought to be around 2,000 pandas in the wild in western China, while another 400 are in captivity throughout the world.

Giant pandas, protected in China and considered symbols of the country, live to an average age of 20 in the wild and tend to live longer in captivity.