Chi-Chi, the Giant Panda who starred in one of the greatest non-romance stories of all time, may now be near death because of old age.
Chi-Chi, the Giant Panda who starred in one of the greatest non-romance stories of all time, may now be near death because of old age. At 15, she's said to be the oldest living Giant Panda in captivity. In the past weeks, her health has been causing authorities at her home of London Zoo concern. She's ben asleep for much of the time if her den and there's a sign posted telling visitors that she's unwell and not on view.
Chi-Chi's most notable claim to fame was her non-romance with a male Panda from the Soviet Union. In 1966, she was flown to Moscow in the hopes of mating her with An-An, a giant Panda resident in the Soviet capital's zoo. Although--or perhaps because--the world watched with great interest, their experiment was a failure. Their introductory meeting even ended with a fight, and Chi-Chi resisted all of An-An's advances.
In 1968, An-An made the trip to London. But Chi-Chi hadn't mellowed with time. She was obstinate as ever and the second attempt ended when An-An returned to Moscow in 1969. Visnews Library film shows their second meeting.
Chi-Chi was captured in the People's Republic of China in 1557, when only a few months old. She was brought by an Austrian animal dealer who hoped to sell her to an American zoo. But she was refused entry to the United States because she was of Chinese origin. And so she was bought by the London Zoo. There are only three Giant Pandas now in zoos in the West, although there are at least 16 in Chinese zoos.
Zoo officials said that Chi-Chi hasn't gone off her food which is composed primarily of bamboo shoots.
A zoo official told a VISNEWS cameraman on Monday (24 April) that Chi-Chi was an old lady. But, he added, Pandas are unpredictable and she might be out and about again.