Japan's Oldest Giant Panda Dies

Tokyo Zoo star was 22
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2008 9:00 AM CDT
In this Saturday, April 20, 2002 file photo, male panda Ling-Ling sits in the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

(Newser) – Ling Ling, the undisputed star of the Tokyo Zoo and a symbol of friendship between Japan and China, died today of heart failure, the AP reports. At 22—the equivalent of 70 human years—the giant panda was Japan’s oldest, and the fifth-oldest in the world. Ling Ling had been eating poorly since August, suffering from kidney and heart problems. He'd been withdrawn from public view just one day when he was found dead.

 “He was resting at his favorite spot,” a zookeeper said. Ling Ling’s portrait now hangs in his cage along with bouquets and bamboo shoots. He was the only panda owned by Japan; the rest of the country’s bears are on loan from China. Japan is already in talks with China about a replacement.