Sunday, July 21, 2024

Chapultepec Zoo celebrates 34th birthday of Xin Xin, the giant panda

Mexico City and the Chapultepec Zoo are celebrating the 34th birthday of Xin Xin, the giant panda.

Xin Xin is the only giant panda in Latin America and the only one in the world that does not belong to China, as well as one of the oldest of her species. The life expectancy for giant pandas is about 15-20 years. 

At 34 years old, Xin Xin is a success story of the Chapultepec Zoo.
At 34 years old, Xin Xin is a success story of the Chapultepec Zoo. (Sedema/Cuartoscuro)

“This celebration symbolizes the ambition of recovering and conserving threatened wildlife species and those in danger of extinction,” said Mexico City’s Environmental Ministry in a statement.

Xin Xin is the most popular resident of the 101-year-old zoo and visitors come from all around the world to watch her roam and play.

Visitors cluster in the viewing area waiting for Xin Xin to appear, although the waits have become longer as the aging panda now walks more gingerly, fumbles with her playthings less frequently and takes longer naps. 

Officials and caretakers at the zoo take great pride in Xin Xin. 

“It is very important to celebrate [her birthday] because it helps circulate the positive message that Mexico City’s Wildlife Conservation Centers — and Xin Xin, as wildlife ambassador — provide,” said Dr. Fernando Gual Sill, the director of the conservation center. “Visitors learn the importance of conservation, not just of wildlife like giant pandas, but also about Mexico’s native species and those that are threatened by extinction.”

The Chapultepec Zoo has had one of the most successful panda-breeding programs outside of China. Eight giant pandas have been conceived in the zoo since the first pandas — Pe Pe and Yin Yin — arrived in Mexico on Sept. 10, 1975.

Xin Xin was conceived naturally and was born in the zoo on July 1, 1990. Her mother was Tohui, the second giant panda born in captivity outside of China and the first born overseas to survive into adulthood. Xin Xin’s father was Chia Chia who was on loan from the London Zoo for breeding purposes.

Some experts attribute the success of Mexico City’s breeding program to the high altitude, which at 7,300 feet (2,225 meters) is similar to the pandas’ native habitat in Sichuan, China.

With reports from El Universal, El Imparcial and Chilango

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