Pair of pandas in Mexico break record, become oldest living outside China

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Aside from the World Cup and ahead of its presidential election, Mexico has passed a milestone of another sort. A pair of pandas at the capital city’s zoo have broken a record. CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock has more.

Watch the original story on CGTN America

Mexico City’s Chapultepec zoo is home to the oldest pandas in the world, outside of China itself.

It’s two animals, Shuan Shuan and Xin Xin, are 31 and 28-years-old respectively, far outliving the twenty-two year average life expectancy of a panda bear living in captivity.

The two bears are also the first ever to be born in captivity outside of China.

Their longevity is attributed by the zoo’s staff to a careful regimen of diet, exercise and medical checkups, which they undergo every morning.

“We’ve discovered that we can train panda bears to go through medical checkups, assuming positions that allow us to examine their health in detail, from their dental hygiene to muscle tone,” said Miriam Nogueira, Chapultepec Zoo’s chief medical officer.

“That has been vital, because otherwise medical examinations are done under anesthesia, and every time you use that, it does damage to the animals’ health.”

The pandas are big crowd-pleasers, attracting as many as fifty thousand people a day to their bamboo-filled exhibit, where they sleep in hammocks, swim in their ponds, and munch on their favorite plant.

“They’re my favorite animal, and I’m happy to see Mexico doing its best to help this endangered species,” said one visitor.

The zoo’s director Claudia Levy says that the fact that they were born in the zoo has allowed them a unique insight into the lives of these mysterious creatures.

“We have seen them grow from cubs, and have gathered a lot of information on how best to care for them throughout their lifetimes,” she told CGTN. “It’s information, particularly on how we have trained the pandas to undergo medical checkups without the need for drugs, that we share with other zoos with pandas around the world.”

“It’s about furthering our collective knowledge so that everyone can enjoy these amazing animals,” she said.

As Chapultepec’s pandas move into old age, the zoo’s staff say they will continue to learn about how best to care for these animals, hoping to help other zoos around the world raise record-breaking pandas as well.

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Alasdair Baverstock MA is an award-winning multimedia foreign correspondent based in Mexico City, with more than five years of experience covering Latin America. Originally from London, and with full NCTJ certification, he specialises in news and feature journalism for print, radio and television. His work has previously been used as set-texts in British A-Level examinations. He currently works as CGTN America's Mexico correspondent, and has formerly published work in TIME Magazine, Daily Mail, The Atlantic, Penthouse, Fox News, BBC, Daily Telegraph, TRT World, and others.

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