China to hold memorial for world's oldest panda

Basi the world’s oldest captive giant panda dies in China

The 37-year-old giant panda Basi passed away in Fuzhou early Wednesday.

She took her name from the Basi valley, where she was rescued by villagers in south-west China's Sichuan province, according to the Xinhua news agency. She was brought to Straits Giant Panda Research and Exchange Center when she was 4 and lived there until she died, the Telegraph reported.

A 37-year-old panda equates to a 100-year-old human being.

The bear found fame after she was chosen as the model for Pan Pan, the mascot of the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing.

The panda had also suffered from high blood pressure and had undergone cataract surgery, media reports said.

Even more heart breaking than this news itself is the fact the giant panda's death comes just one year after the death of her long term (27-years) keeper, Shi Feining. The park later held a memorial for her, calling her "an angel of friendship both at home and overseas".

In 1987, she was sent to San Diego Zoo and attracted around 2.5 million visitors during her stay. Basi lived her life without giving birth to cubs.

"Basi has left, but her lovely image and Basi spirit will forever be in our hearts", the panda centre's director Chen Yucun said in a eulogy sent to AFP, describing her as "legendary".

Basi was suffering from many illnesses as her age progressed.

Doctors had spent the last three months trying to keep her alive but she eventually succumbed to liver and kidney failure.

In September 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature removed the panda from its list of endangered species and classified it as vulnerable, the stage before extinction.

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