Japan’s oldest giant panda, Tan Tan, died on Monday of heart disease caused by old age. She was 28 — which translates to roughly 100 human years.

Born in China in 1995, the giant panda, whose name is pronounced "dan dan" in Chinese, was sent to Japan in 2000, where she lived in Kobe Oji Zoo for 24 years as a symbol of recovery from the Great Hanshin Earthquake that struck the region in January 1995.

At a news conference on Monday afternoon, the zoo’s director Yujiro Kako said the giant panda had given courage to local residents and children for nearly 24 years, especially after the earthquake.

“We sincerely wish to express our gratitude to everyone who has shown interest in and love for giant panda Tan Tan over the years,” Kako said.

Upon the expiry of her lease to Japan, Tan Tan was supposed to be sent back to China in 2020, but her return was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. After the pandemic, her return was put off again for her to undergo medical treatment following a diagnosis of age-related cardiac disease.

With the death of Tan Tan and following the return to China of Xiang Xiang, Japan now has eight pandas — four in Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, and another four in Wakayama Prefecture's Adventure World.