Maimed panda keeper could have disabilities
A 41-year-old panda keeper who was recently severely wounded when he was attacked by a mother panda is being treated at a suburban branch of West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, Sichuan province.
“It will take many months for Wei Hua’s wounds to heal, and he could possibly have permanent disabilities,” said Zhang Guiquan, deputy chief of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wenchuan county, Sichuan.
On Dec 14, Xi Mei, a 16-year-old mother panda, and her 1-year-old cub Ba Xi were transferred to a semi-wild area in Tiantaishan where the animals learn skills for surviving in the wild.
“The transfer changed the docile Xi Mei,” Zhang said.
On Dec 17, Wei had not seen Ba Xi on the computer screen monitoring her for more than two days, and he went to the habitat with two colleagues to look for her.
“Shortly later, we saw Ba Xi and decided to leave, but her mother stood in our way. We offered her bamboo,” Wei said.
As Xi Mei ate the bamboo, Wei and his colleagues quickly left, but the mother chased them and bit the outside of Wei’s left palm.
“I struggled to free myself, but I was pulled down. She had been biting me for more than five minutes before my colleagues could lure her away with a garment,” Wei said. Wei’s hand was severely injured. “Nearly one-third of his left palm was bitten off,” said his colleague Zhang Dalei.
“There are cases of pandas biting keepers and visitors in our center from time to time,” Zhang said.
“Pandas have bitten visitors who put their hands into the dens or entered them to take photos.”