A very special panda reached a milestone birthday this year. By Andrea Romano
An An, a giant panda living at Hong Kong Ocean Park in China, just turned 35 years old, making him the longest living panda currently living in captivity and the oldest male panda under human care, CNN reported.
An An, whose name translates to “peace,” was born in the wild in Sichuan, China in 1986 and was given to the Hong Kong government by China in 1999 with his mate and has been in Ocean Park’s care ever since, according to CNN. The park celebrated his birthday with a Haagen-Dazs cake, bamboo shoots, and other treats that he enjoys, like sweet potatoes, carrots, pears, and Fuji apples. The park usually gives An An and its other animals icy treats to help keep them cool in the summertime.
Naturally, no one should celebrate their birthday alone, so the park also made ice cakes for An An’s panda companions, Le Le and Ying Ying, who joined An An for a little panda “birthday party,” according to the New York Post. Le Le and Ying Ying are both 16 years old and will be celebrating their birthdays later in August.
Typically, giant pandas in the wild live to be between 15 and 20 years old, but Ocean Park stated that pandas in captivity can live upwards of that, around 30 years. Since An An has reached his mid-thirties, that would make him 105 years old in panda years, CNN reported.
According to USA Today, giant pandas have been reclassified as “vulnerable” rather than “endangered” thanks to rising populations in the wild. China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment stated that there are now over 1,800 giant pandas currently living in the wild. This encouraging data comes from China’s many decades of conservation efforts, including banning the trading and poaching of wild pandas. Siberian tigers and Asian elephants have also seen rising population numbers, USA Today reported.
Hong Kong Ocean Park shared plenty of adorable photos of An An’s birthday celebration on its Instagram feed.
Andrea Romano is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @theandrearomano.