Japan’s oldest giant panda Tan Tan dies at 28 in Kobe zoo

Tan Tan’s age of 28 was equivalent to being in her 80s in human years. She spent about 24 years in a Kobe zoo. - KOBE CITY OJI ZOO/TWITTER

TOKYO: The oldest giant panda living in Japan, Tan Tan, has died at age 28 at a zoo in the western city of Kobe. She spent about 24 years there as a symbol of recovery from the Great Hanshin Earthquake that struck the region in 1995, the zoo said on Monday (April 1).

The female giant panda, whose age was equivalent to being in her 80s in human years, was under treatment after being found with heart disease in March 2021. She is believed to have died from prostration caused by the disease, according to Kobe Oji Zoo.

A zookeeper found Tan Tan in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest shortly past 10pm local time on March 31, and her death was confirmed at 11.56pm local time after a veterinarian performed resuscitation.

Tan Tan went to the zoo from China in 2000 under a 10-year lease, but her stay was prolonged after the Chinese side agreed to extend the contract for five years twice.

The panda had been scheduled to be sent back to China in July 2020, but the trip was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After the pandemic, her return was put off again due to the need for medical treatment following the diagnosis of age-related cardiac disease in 2021.

The zoo had refrained from showcasing the giant panda for the general public since early in 2022 due to her health condition. Since late 2023, Tan Tan had been less active and sleeping longer.

At a news conference on April 1, the zoo’s director Yujiro Kako said the giant panda had given courage to local residents and children for nearly 24 years, especially after the earthquake, and added: “We sincerely wish to express our gratitude to everyone who has shown interest in and love for giant panda Tan Tan over the years.” - Xinhua

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