At the age of 35, An An the Giant Panda has passed away. Born in 1986 in Sichuan, China, he originally lived in the Wolong National Nature Reserve before being sent to the Ocean Park in March of 1999. A gift from the government in Beijing to Hong Kong alongside a female Giant Panda by the name of Jia Jia, An An was a long term draw at the theme park. At the time of his passing, An An was the oldest male Giant Panda being taken care of by humans.
The loss is an acute one for his species. Despite popularity and conservation efforts, the Giant Panda is still classified as a vulnerable species. That being said, this is an improvement compared to its previously endangered status. This decline in population numbers such that the Giant Panda reached endangered status is due in large part to the farming, deforestation, and other developments in areas of a few mountain ranges in China in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu, that the Giant Pandas call home. As of 2021 there are an estimated 1,800 Giant Pandas living outside of captivity in China.
Recent increases to the population size are due in part to significant efforts being exerted by the Chinese government to protect their vulnerable species. Regarding the Giant Pandas, this has meant expanding their habitats and replanting the bamboo forests on which they feed. Other conservation efforts are being directed at the protection of vulnerable species like Siberian tigers, amur leopards, Asian elephants, and crested ibis, which have also seen their populations increase recently.