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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
China's oldest panda dies
Changchang was China's oldest captive giant panda
Changchang refused to eat earlier this month

China's oldest giant panda in captivity, 35- year-old Changchang, has died of old age at a zoo in eastern China.

Changchang was diagnosed last week as suffering from pneumonia, liver disease and multi-organ exhaustion.

He died after an emergency attempt to save him on Tuesday at Jinan zoo in eastern Shandong province, the People's Daily web site said.

Changchang had lived five years longer than the average life expectancy of a panda in captivity and in human terms was between 75- 85 when he died, the paper said.

He died of old age because of the weakness of his internal organs, specialists said.

Changchang was around 85 in human terms
Changchang simply died of old age

Zoo keepers said that Changchang started to refuse food on 8 May.

The big panda used to eat special meals consisting of up to three corn buns, three litres of milk and 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of tender bamboo leaves.

But then he refused to eat and became lethargic.

"Bathed in love and care"

Changchang was sent to Jinan Zoo from a nature reserve in northwest Gansu Province seven years ago. He "has bathed in love and care ever since," the paper said in an article last year.

When he arrived at the zoo he was already suffering from the discomforts of old age.

His teeth were loose and eating pandas' favourite food - tender bamboo leaves - became almost impossible for him.

Panda peeping through leaves
Giant pandas are an endangered species

His keepers came up with a special recipe of cornbread, bone meal, fishmeal, ground meat and minced bamboo leaves.

Changchang lived in an air-conditioned house with the average temperature and humidity maintained at all times.

The zoo authorities announced that Changchang's remains would be preserved and mounted and returned to his home in Gansu province.

The world's oldest panda before Changchang, a 37 year-old female called Dudi, died of epilepsy in 1999 at a zoo in Wuhan, central China, the People's Daily said.

Giant pandas are only found in China and are one of the most endangered species in the world.

It is thought that fewer than 1,000 pandas are still living in the wild in western China.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

31 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
16 Feb 01 | Science/Nature
22 Jun 99 | Science/Nature
19 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
14 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
Internet links:


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