I won’t see him anymore! panda fans bid farewell to An An

“I didn’t expect it to be so fast,” a citizen said as he originally came to visit An An on Thursday but learned he had passed away. “I won’t see him anymore!”

Hong Kong’s beloved An An, the world’s oldest-ever male giant panda in captivity, was euthanized Thursday at the Hong Kong Ocean Park where he lived because his health had deteriorated.

Ocean Park said in a statement that a veterinarian euthanized the 35-year-old animal to prevent further suffering and for ethical reasons.

“An An lived a full life that ended at the respectable age of 35 – the equivalent of 105 years in human age,” the statement added.

The park hosts condolence books at The Hong Kong Jockey Club Sichuan Treasures from Thursday for visitors to pay their respects and place pictures and flowers inside the museum in memory of An An.

Those who are not able to visit in person can leave a condolence in the comment section to pay tribute to An An.

A panda fan surnamed Chan came to the park on Thursday to see An An on closed-circuit television but knew something had happened when she saw a large number of media: “I thought he would eat today and prayed for him, but I never thought I won’t see him again ...”

Since they learned that An An was in poor health, Chan came to visit him almost every other day. She said An An was special among all the pandas: “His ears were always shaking, and (it was) very cute and well behaved.”

She even said An An was her moral support: “When I saw him, anything that makes me unhappy would go.”

Chan believed it was reasonable for the park to euthanize An An, saying he would rest in peace and be happy forever in heaven.

She also hoped that An An’s ashes would be placed in Ocean Park so he can be with Jia Jia, the giant panda who died six years ago.

Another visitor who accompanied his daughter on a school trip said, “After so many years of coming here, it feels like a friend has left.

An An, born in Sichuan province in southwestern China, arrived in Hong Kong in 1999 along with a female giant panda named Jia Jia as a gift from Beijing to the city. The latter died in 2016, aged 38.

Jia Jia was 8 years older than An An and was equivalent to 60 years of human age when she came to Hong Kong, while An An was 36 years of human age at that time. Before coming to Hong Kong, Jia Jia had given birth five times to six babies on the mainland, and An An had lived in Singapore for six months.

They lived separately since their arrival in Ocean Park, never being close friends nor in love. The park had hoped that the two giant pandas would have the first panda babies in Hong Kong but never succeeded after many years.