Gao Gao, San Diego Zoo’s eldest panda, has a heart disease that is rapidly worsening, zoo officials said Friday in a statement.
The panda underwent a medical checkup on Tuesday, where animal care staffers found that he had pulmonic stenosis, a narrowing of the pulmonary valve opening.
The 26-year-old panda was diagnosed with a heart murmur three years ago, but Tuesday’s checkup showed his new, progressive condition. He’s been put on medication and animal care staffers will continue to perform cardiac ultrasounds.
Resident Veterinarian Ryan Sadler said in a statement that Gao Gao’s heart disease “will continue to progress” and can’t be cured.
“He is responding very well to his treatment, and we will continue to monitor the progression of his disease, so we can keep him as healthy and content as possible,” Sadler said in a statement.
Further details on the panda’s prognosis weren’t immediately revealed.
Gao Gao is on loan at the San Diego Zoo from the People’s Republic of China. He lives at the zoo with two other pandas, 24-year-old Bai Yun, and their 3-year-old offspring, Xiao Liwu.
Only four zoos in the nation are home to giant pandas, including the San Diego Zoo, the Washington D.C. Zoo Park, Zoo Atlanta and the Memphis Zoo.
In the wild, zoologists estimate there are about 1,600 worldwide.