Happy birthday Jia Jia - oldest panda under human care gets special cake at Ocean Park

By John Kang
By John Kang |

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A little funny Jia Jia doesn't seem too interested in her birthday cake ... but, awwwww!

The oldest giant panda under human care celebrates her 37th birthday ahead of time in Hong Kong today.

Jia Jia, a mother of four from Sichuan, turns 37 next month, confirms an adjudicator of Guinness World Records who is at Ocean Park today. All the more astonishing because the average life expectancy of giant pandas under human care is only 25 years. In the wild, that is shortened to 20 years.

Jia Jia eats 6kg of bamboo a day, but today she gets a special treat: a frozen “cake” made of ice, carrots, apples and bamboo leaves.

Three other giant pandas also live at Ocean Park: An An, Ying Ying and Le Le. All were gifts from the Chinese government to Hong Kong.

The adjudicator of Guinness World Records confirms that Jia Jia is not only the oldest living panda currently under human care, she’s also the oldest panda ever under human care. So Jia Jia celebrates her birthday today with two Guinness World Records!

So, how have Jia Jia lived so long?

"Genetics," says Suzanne Gendron, executive director of Zoological Operations and Education at Ocean Park. "She has great genetics, but we also trained her to help us take care of her. We taught her to stick her arm out to take blood, and this helps us take blood samples without any stress to her ... so we are able to monitor her. Plus, she's very well loved."