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Hsing Hsing (In the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.) was put to sleep on Sunday, November 28, 1999. Hsing Hsing was 28, which is far beyond the normal life expectancy of pandas. He has been very ill for some time and was suffering from kidney failure and other ailments. He was a must see for millions of visitors to the zoo each year since his arrival in 1972.

Hsing Hsing and his mate Ling Ling were a gift from the Chinese government to then President Richard Nixon in April, 1972 as a gesture of peace and friendship. While they mated successfully a number of times, Ling Ling never successfully bore a cub which survived.

According to the Associated Press, Hsing Hsing's skin and skeletal remains will go to the National History Museum in Washington , D.C. where Ling Ling's remains reside.

The zoo has been negotiating with the Chinese government to obtain another pair for breeding and research.

I had the opportunity to visit the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in April, 1999. He was known to be very ill, so my 10 year old son and I made sure to visit as we suspected it would be for the last time.

I took many pictures. More pictures are displayed below.

My first observation is Hsing Hsing was a lot smaller than the last time I saw him (over five years ago). He was asleep when I arrived, but I checked on feeding time so I knew when to come back.

Hsing Hsing was kept inside the building. His natural climate is cool rainforests 5,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level so on warm days (above 75 degrees) he is kept inside where it is climate controlled.

While everything we have read and learned insists that bamboo comprises over 90% of a Panda's diet, this was clearly not the food of choice for him. Hsing Hsing's feeding included some type of mash which I could not identify, carrots, apples and bamboo. He reached for the carrots first, then turned to the bowl with the unidentified mash.  This was clearly his favorite. Apples came next. Finally, he turned to the bamboo last. I did not stick around for the whole meal, so I cannot report if he eventually ate all of the bamboo. Perhaps he saved the best for make the call.

Of interesting note, is the bamboo that has sprouted up around Washington, especially the zoo. I was told that when the two pandas came to Washington in 1972, major plantings of bamboo were made to meet the pandas large appetite for them. I am not sure of Ling Ling's diet, but more than one person told me it is hard to get Hsing Hsing to eat large amounts of bamboo.







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