There are 1,900 giant pandas in the wild, and 600 others are in zoos and breeding centers that seek to increase the population of the vulnerable species. China owns almost all the animals, including those born abroad to parents lent for a fee to foreign zoos.
At the Chongqing Zoo, Xin Xing lived a seemingly untroubled life, lounging in a bear-size pool in the summer and eating seven meals a day.
Her caretaker of 28 years, Zhang Naicheng, told China Daily in August, “When she was younger, she ate faster and much more than other pandas.”
The panda was also prone to temper tantrums when she was young, he told the China News Service in 2018. “Xin Xing was pretty hotheaded back then,” he said. “Among the pandas, she was a pretty fierce one. Now that she’s old, she’s become more docile and less easily provoked.”
For her 38th birthday, in August, zoo keepers presented her with a large ice cube piled high with watermelon slices, apple wedges and bamboo leaf garnishes. Children sang to her from a distance.
Xin Xing celebrated the Chinese lunar New Year with four wobbly-footed cubs, including two great-granddaughters, Xi Xi and Qing Qing, at the Chongqing Zoo.
Xin Xing’s parents could not be identified, and her male companion, Chuan Chuan, died in 2010. Her survivors, too many to name, include a son, Le Le, in the Memphis Zoo; a grandson, Tuan Tuan, in the Taipei Zoo; a granddaughter, Er Shun, who was recently returned to China from the Calgary Zoo; and her great-grand cubs Jia Panpan, Jia Yueyue, Yuan Zai and Yuan Bao.