The world’s oldest male panda, Pan Pan, has died in China.
Pan Pan, 31, was diagnosed with cancer six months ago, having lived almost all his life in captivity. He was captured in Sichuan as a six-month old cub. The BBC reports that his name means “Hope.”
The centre described the news of the death of the “hero-father” panda as “heart-wrenching”.
Keepers said he had stopped moving and eating, and lost consciousness, as his health had deteriorated rapidly over the preceding three days.
In September, the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced that the status pandas had been changed from “endangered” to “vulnerable”, as numbers had begun to increase.
The latest Chinese estimates show a population of 1,864 adults, as well as – according to China’s State Forestry Administration – 422 in captivity.
Pan Pan is survived by 130 descendants — reportedly a quarter of the world’s captive-bred pandas — with family in California, Washington D.C., Edinburgh, Brussels, Ya’an, Chengdu, Chiang Mai and Taipei.