The 35-yer-old male giant panda An An was euthanized on Thursday at the theme park Ocean Park in Hong Kong, where he had been living for the past 23 years.
Over the past weeks, the panda’s health deteriorated; he started eating less until he finally stopped, Ocean Park said, adding that veterinarians decided to euthanize him to end his suffering.
An An was born in the wild of mainland China’s Sichuan province. He was captured and, in 1999, gifted to Hong Kong with the female panda Jia Jia.
After Jia Jia died in 2016, An An lived alone at the park. In 2021, he celebrated his 35th birthday alone with a fruit and bamboo ice cake.
Ocean Park displays animals for entertainment, including dolphins, walruses, penguins, and giant pandas.
In 2007, China gave two other pandas to the park, the female Ying Ying and male Le Le. The park hopes the two will have babies, but pandas don’t mate well in captivity.
Some people who had visited the park said they felt bad for the animals there. “Don’t get me wrong, the rides are incredible. However, thousands of poor animals are caged in such poor conditions,” one visitor said. “I nearly cried watching the panda pace back and forwards.”
“Are those pandas live, or are they all dead? Why torture them? Get rid of pandas and build a new ride there,” another one said. “Many of the animal exhibits felt oppressive and cruel,” was another comment.
Giant pandas are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with only between 500 and 1000 individuals living in the wild.