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Basi, world's oldest panda
Updated: 2011-02-14

Basi, world's oldest panda

After she returned from the U.S., the Beijing Asian Games organizing committee invited Basi to perform in Beijing, and later decided to use her as the prototype for Pan Pan, the mascot for the 1990 Beijing Asian Games. Basi became a part of the whole country's image.

"Basi was then pretty, active, energetic and quite cooperative. She can fully represent our mascot Pan Pan," said Liu Zhongren, designer of the mascot of 1990 Beijing Asian Games

Basi rose to be a big star. After the Beijing Asian Games, she was invited to shows all around the country. No panda had ever drawn such extensive attention before, and more people got fascinated by the cute creature.

"I found Basi was a genius and very talented, so I collected all the cigarette packs carrying Basi's images," said Lu Weixie, curator of the Fuzhou Panda Art Museum.

As time goes by, Basi ages and the Fuzhou Panda World shifted their research focus to the panda's aging problems.

"Every morning I would ask her to take a walk with me, and then exercise her arms a little bit by teaching her some waving and ball-holding gestures," Shi Feining said, "nowadays, she is always too tired to go far and her arms are getting stiff."

It was in 2001 and 2002 that Basi's health began to get worse. She was found to have hypertension and cataracts. Her illnesses provided first-hand, key information for panda disease prevention.

In 2001, Basi's blood pressure went twice as usual, with frequent nose bleeding. After that, she had to take medicine everyday to stablize her blood pressure.

"We shared our diagnosis and treatment measures with panda raisers in Hong Kong, Jinan, Dalian and Shanghai and saved many sick pandas," Chen Yucun said.

Zhao Guangjian, one of the doctors with Fuzhou South East Eye Hospital who helped cure Basi's cataracts, said the operation on Basi was one of the most difficult he had experienced.

"Since there was no set medical procedures for panda cataracts, the operation on Basi's eyes took almost an hour. A similar operation on a human would only take several minutes," Zhao said. Luckily, the operation was successful and set another example for panda disease treatment.

However, about seven months ago, Basi came across the most serious disease challenge in her 30 years of life.

"Eating so many bamboos, pandas' intestines would get pricked and wounded. But pandas have the natural ability to heal the wound and discharge the scab out of the body. The process would appear like diarrhoea and usually lasts for about 15 days to a month. But this time, Basi caught a diarrhoea much longer than that," Chen Yucun explained.

No one had noticed something wrong with Basi's laxness at first. But she suddenly lay still on the ground in the afternoon of June 1 last year. Doctors assumed that she may suffer from enteritis.

"If it was enteritis, it could be cured by using antibiotics. But in the following four days and nights, we tried all we could think of to cure enteritis, and Basi was still in coma, without any sign of getting better," Chen said.