Maimed panda keeper could have dis­abil­i­ties

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu huangzhiling@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.”

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