The legend of giant panda: Pan Pan’s life

The oldest male giant panda in the world, Pan Pan, who died at 4:50am on December 28, 2016, at the age of 31, which is equivalent to a hundred years old for humans. (Note: The giant panda Ba Si who has passed away was called “Pan Pan”, because she was the prototype the mascot of the 1990 Asian Games, and the mascot was named “Pan Pan”.) The number of Pan Pan’s offspring is about 130, which nearly is a quarter of giant panda populations in the world. The netizens said that giant panda Pan Pan saved this species by himself.

Ya’an was the hometown of Pan Pan, and he was an orphan and rescued form wild at Sichuan Fengtongzhai Reserve.

An orphan of giant panda: Pan Pan’s hometown Jiajin Mountain

Cui Xuezhen, a former director of Fengtongzhai reserve, who devoted his life to his career and was retired 9 year ago. On December 28, 2016, Cui saw the news of the death of the 31-year-old giant panda Pan Pan.

He has a work diary that records more than 50 giant pandas rescued from the wild by him and his colleagues since the 1980s, which is a history book about panda-protecting of Jiajin Mountain.

It is wrote that the place where and the date when Pan Pan was rescued, and this is Pan Pan’s first profile:

Date: May 1st, 1987
Location: Yanjing county
Age: 3 months
The rescue staff: Liu Zhongming

Note: The panda cub was found in the forest alone without adult panda. It was said that adult panda would not recognize the cub if they are separated from each other for only one night. The cub was named Pan Pan. Later, Pan Pan moved to Wolong.

There is another staff of Fengtongzhai reserve named Yang Benqing, who remembered the day rescued Pan Pan. It was a forest at the altitude about 2500 meters. At that time, the arrow bamboo in Jiajin Mountain bloomed in large areas. The government of Baoxing County and a large number of patrol to rescue the giant pandas from the mountain. Liu Zhongming found the panda cub. The patrol realized that this was an orphan, who might be abandoned by the adult, after monitoring the cub for a whole night.

Liu brought the cub to the office of reserve by confirming that there was no other pandas around. The cub looked very weak and his body covered with sores. The keeper Li Wuke (past away) took a good care of the cub, while he was looking after another panda cub named An An, who was an orphan, too. These two panda cubs were about the same age. Li prepared two milk bottles for the cubs, or they would fight over the milk. Li shareed his bed with the cubs for every night. The pandas would make some noise when they need to pee or poo. Panda cubs were getting stronger and stronger with the great care of nanny Li.

Gao Huakang, who had worked at Fengtongzhai Reserve, has hobby as photograph, and he collected many pandas’ pictures for a panda file. Pan Pan was part of his file. There are two photos which are so precious. One is that nanny Li was feeding Pan Pan with milk, and An An was begging for more milk; another is the cub playing with a little girl, and the girl named Xiang Ke, who is the daughter of the staff. Due to the experience of growing up with pandas, the little girl Xiang Ke, who applied for a college major related to the wildlife and giant pandas when grown up.

Gao Huakang’s wife had spent time taking care of Pan Pan, and she remembered that Pan Pan was very naughty and smart. The panda can open the gate and hang out for a while by himself, even if the keeper locked the door. And he would go back to the house when he was tired.

From September 1990 to January 1991, Pan Pan traveled to Singapore as a cultural ambassador together with An An under the name “Xin Xing". This was the first time that giant panda had been exhibited in Southeast Asia. During the three-month exhibition, the number of visitors reached 450,000. On New Year's Day in 1991, it was the last day of Pan Pan and An An exhibited in Singapore. The sun was shining brightly on that day, and many tourists made a special trip to say goodbye to the giant pandas and hope that the giant pandas would come to Singapore and settle down there.

On September 5, 2012, giant pandas Wu Jie and Lu Bao set off from Bifengxia, Ya'an, and went to Singapore for a 10-year international scientific research exchange and cooperation activities on giant pandas.

Giant panda An An at Hong Kong Ocean Park

A great father: Pan Pan played an important role in this big panda family.

Pan Pan had been living at the rescue base of Fengtongzhai Reserve for more than 4 years. On May 4, 1991, the young panda Pan Pan left Fengtongzhai and came to Wolong Nature Reserve Research Center, which is next to Jiajin mountain.

Pan Pan at Dujiangyan Panda Base

In the 1970s, the Beijing Zoo performed artificial breeding on giant pandas for the first time. Most of the panda cubs, who did not get breast milk from mothers died of diseases. Because the cub cannot grow with a strong immunity without breast milk, and were prone to respiratory and digestive diseases.

The China Conservation and Research Center of Giant Panda in Wolong Nature Reserve was established in 1983. Pan Pan, who had a strong body with a cute face, was selected as a male breeder. At that time, there were only 4 male giant pandas that could mate naturally, and Pan Pan was one of them. The strong panda Pan Pan lived up to expectations. He mated with female panda Dong Dong naturally, and then became a father. The birth of Pan Pan’s first child Bai Yun, who is the first panda cub that survival due to the artificial breeding for past 10 years.

Giant panda Dong Dong

Since then, Pan Pan mated with other females, and had more children. Pan Pan was getting popular as a great papa.

On September 7, 1991, the giant panda Bai Yun was born at the Wolong Panda Base, and was sent to the San Diego Zoo on September 10, 1996. Bai Yun is the first surviving and breeding offspring of Wolong, opened a new chapter in the history of artificial feeding about giant pandas. Having inherited the excellent genes of this heroic father, Pan Pan’s children have bred more offspring, and Pan Pan became the ancestor of this giant panda family.

The daughter of Pan Pan and Dong Dong--Bai Yun at Dujiangyan Panda Base

From the day of the birth, the giant panda Bai Yun (“White Cloud” in Chinese) has been like a white cloud floating in the blue sky of Wolong. She has given hopes to the researchers who had contributed to the career of the giant panda, and also left a historic record in the scientific research of artificial feeding about giant pandas.

Later, Bai Yun moved to the US. She paired with giant pandas Shi Shi and Gao Gao, and gave birth to Hua Mei, Mei Sheng, Su Lin, Zhen Zhen, and Xiao Li Wu in the United States.

Giant panda Shi Shi

The male giant panda Gao Gao was born in Jiajin mountain, which is the same place with Pan Pan’s birthplace. On April 6, 1993, villagers found a panda cub, who was lost in the wild. At that time, Gao Gao was about 1 year old. It was said that Gao Gao was seriously injured with blood on his face and one ear got shredded. Gao Gao was very weak. While, Gao Gao has a tenacious will to be a winner. After being treated by staff of Fengtongzhai Nature Reserve, Gao Gao moved to Wolong Panda Base to start his new life. After all of this, Gao Gao became the son-in-law of Pan Pan, the husband of Bai Yun, and Mei Sheng, Su Lin, and Zhen Zhen, Xiao Li Wu are the children of them.

Giant panda Gao Gao at Dujiangyan Panda Base

Hua Mei is the first Chinese giant panda born overseas. At that time, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Li Zhaoxing personally named her Hua Mei (meaning China and the United States).


Giant panda Hua Mei & her cubs Jin Du Du and Hua Meng Meng

Hua Mei is a great mother, and she has given birth to six cubs. Among them, the giant panda that giving to Taiwan, Tuan Tuan, is her son. Bai Yun is Tuan Tuan’s grand mother, and Pan Pan was Tuan Tuan’s great grandfather. With the birth of Yuan Zai, the fifth generation of the Pan Pan family was appeared, and Pan Pan became the “great grand grandfather".

The male giant panda Tai Shan, one of Pan Pan’s grandsons, is a real super star. 220,000 Americans participated in his naming activities after Tai Shan was born. The world’s first giant panda released into the wild, Xiang Xiang, was the grandson of Pan Pan, too.

Pan Pan's grandson--giant panda Tai Shan at Shengshuping Panda Base

Pan Pan’s offsprings, each of them, is shining with a charming halo with their legendary stories.

Pan Pan's 30th birthday party at Dujiangyan Panda Base

The elderly life of Pan Pan

As a “great grand grandfather” of the panda family, the number of Pan Pan’s children is a quarter of the captive giant pandas among the world.

On August 31, 2015, during the first Dujiangyan Giant Panda Festival, the reporter made a special trip to the Dujiangyan Panda Base to visit Pan Pan.

Pan Pan was always energetic and vitality among the pandas when he was young. Pan Pan was very excited, and the smell of hormones was exuded all over his body during the season of mating. When he was young, Pan Pan was so strong with his wild gene, and he was chosen as one of the few male breeders. With time went by, Pan Pan was getting older and older.

Pan Pan was laying on the ground. Nobody knew what he was thinking.

“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! ” On September 21, 2015, the oldest male panda Pan Pan, who had the most offsprings, celebrated his 30th birthday with panda keepers and fans at the Dujiangyan Panda Base. The keepers of panda base made a great ice cake with carrots for Pan Pan, who was equivalent to 100 years of human, licked the ice lightly.

With the assistance of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, the China Conservation and Research Center of Giant Panda established a panda base act as a “Giant Panda Nursing Home" in Dujiangyan. The nursing home is focus on disease control and taking care of elderly giant pandas. It is a beautiful place to visit more than 20 elderly pandas, including Pan Pan.

Pan Pan moved to the “Pan Pan’s Garden” of Dujiangyan Panda Base with other senior pandas from Bifengxia. When Pan Pan first arrived at the nursing home, he was in good health, with little tooth loss, and he was active for about 5 hours a day. Pan Pan had a good appetite and he consumed 7-10 kg of food every day, mainly bamboo leaves and bamboo shoots.

Sometimes, it is unacceptable to be an old man. From the beginning of 2015, the keeper began to provide Pan Pan with drugs to promote gastrointestinal digestion, such as ammonia nutrient solution, in an attempt to improve his digestion. However, Pan Pan was getting weaker and weaker by the disease, and he suffered from cataracts and tooth degradation, too.

Pan Pan was a brave panda, and he fought with disease in the end of his life. Pan Pan turned 31 on September 1, 2016. At the birthday party prepared by the keepers, Pan Pan was spirited and bit off the number “31” on the birthday cake.

At the beginning of November, Pan Pan’s abdomen became enlarged, and the blood test report showed that many of his health test numbers were abnormal. After undergoing anesthesia examination and CT scan, the doctor found a huge soft tissue density mass in the abdominal cavity of Pan Pan, which was suspected to be a tumor occupying lesion. Due to a long-term illness, Pan Pan's teeth were severely worn and his immune system was weak. His body was so weak that cannot withstand the surgical treatment, so palliative treatment has to be taken.

In the last days of Pan Pan's life, he lived in a quiet house, which is not open to the tourists. In addition to special care for Pan Pan, heaters were installed in the room, and Pan Pan's favorite bamboo shoots were airlifted from outside the province.

Xue Yubin , a photographer of Xinhua News went to visit Pan Pan and took some photos for him in December 2016. A few days later, Pan Pan passed away. Although Pan Pan was very thin and weak, he could react and come to have meals whenever the keepers brought him panda cake and fresh bamboo leaf.

Three days before his death, Pan Pan’s body deteriorated rapidly, he was unconscious and refused to eat. Although medical staff tried their best to rescue Pan Pan, the world’s oldest male giant panda, died at 4:50 on December 28, 2016.

Cui Xuezhen wrote down in his diary: Although Pan Pan is gone, we are not alone, because his story is still persisted, and his children and grandchildren are by our side. 


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