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Last panda acrobat dies, aged 26

THE last giant panda trained to drive, play horns and shoot basketballs has died at the age of 26.

The male was the last of its species trained to perform acrobatics, and starred in several films, Hubei-based Changjiang Daily reported today.

Born in 1984 in Sichuan Province, Ying Ying was sent to a circus in central China's Wuhan City. The animal learnt to play basketball in 10 months, and started to perform on stage in 1986.

In 1988, China signed the Washington Treaty that banned endangered animals from being trained in the circus.

Ying Ying's main trainer Bai Yuling said she considered the panda her son, as they had been together for more than 20 years. Their relationship was filmed for a documentary.

The giant panda died of old age after five days of agony this June, and the news of his death has just been revealed.


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