Famous Chinese panda to celebrate 35th birthday

Beijing, Nov 27 (IANS) A panda who rose to fame as the mascot of the 11th Asian Games held in 1990, will celebrate her 35th birthday – the equivalent of over 100 human years – on Saturday in Fuzhou, capital of China’s Fujian province.

Fuzhou has been Basi’s home since 1985, one year after she was rescued from the wild, the China Daily reported on Friday.

Among the gifts that Basi will receive from her human friends on the big day will be a cake, which will be easy for her to eat, since her teeth are damaged.

“Basi is the second-oldest panda in the world,” said Zhang Guiquan, a senior panda expert from the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Wenchuan county. “Jia Jia, a 38-year-old female panda at Ocean Park Hong Kong, is the oldest. A captive panda normally lives for 30 years.”

One year for a panda is equivalent to three or four years for a human being, Zhang added.

Basi, born in in 1980, was rescued and saved in 1984. She was starving at the time, as that year bamboo, the staple food of pandas, was just blossoming.

After first living in the Fengtongzhai Nature Reserve in Sichuan, Basi was sent to the Fuzhou Giant Panda Research Centre in Fujian.

At the Fuzhou centre, she was trained to ride a bicycle, shoot a ball into a basket and lift weights. In 1987, she stayed for half a year in the US, where her stunts fascinated countless visitors.

In 1990, Basi became a household name in China when she was chosen as the mascot of the 11th Asian Games in Beijing.

Due to old age, her keepers feed her crushed bamboo leaves and mashed apples and radishes to keep her healthy.

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