Workers at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in the capital of Sichuan province came under fire after a video showing them pushing, dragging and throwing Rourou and Manman, two pandas at the facility, went viral online.
The clip has fueled heated discussion and thousands of comments on Sina Weibo, and many were outraged by the alleged mistreatment of the animals, which are seen as national treasures of China.
Panda keeper Guo Jingpeng said he was feeding milk to panda cubs on July 12, when one of them suddenly became violent, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted authorities at the center as saying yesterday.
“It bit my hand really hard, its teeth cut into my flesh and my hand started bleeding,” Guo said. “When it tried to bite me again, I pushed it away out of instinct.” Two weeks after the incident, damage from the bite was still evident on Guo’s hand.
Guo said when he heard about the viral video and its scathing comments, he felt he had been wronged. “The over 50-minute video was intentionally edited into less than two minutes of footage,” he said.
To playful pandas, biting is just a way of “having fun,” but “panda fun” can injure humans, said Xie Huhai, another panda keeper.
“We often get hurt by the pandas,” Xie said. “Scratches and bites are daily occurrences.”
Pandas can become violent once they reach one or two years old, Guo said.
“When they are happy, they may act normally, but if they experience any external stimulation, they can react quite violently,” he said.
Breeding base authorities said they have questioned the employees involved and taken follow-up measures, demanding all staff treat the pandas more gently when they try to bite or scratch.
“When we saw the video, we thought the staff members had overreacted, even though they meant no harm to the pandas” said Wu Kongju, a panda expert at the base. “But we hope people can show more understanding towards the panda keepers, because although giant pandas look cute, they are quite strong and can be violent.”Keywords: Panda, Animal Abuse