Giant pandas face starvation after China quake

May 25th, 2008 - 4:36 pm ICT by admin  

Chengdu (China), May 25 (Xinhua) The devastating earthquake that jolted southwest China’s Sichuan province May 12 has left the giant pandas with the prospect of starvation as their main food, fresh bamboo, is in short supply. “Pandas are very choosy about food and eat only fresh arrow bamboos. A panda consumes 10 to 18 kg of bamboo a day,” said Zhang Guiquan, vice director of Wolong Nature Reserve centre.

Panda keepers at the Wolong centre, about 30 km from the epicentre of the 8.0-magnitude quake, have had difficulty in reaching the animals’ food resources as the quake, aftershocks and landslides damaged mountain roads, said Zhou Xiaoping of the Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre.

Starting Friday, fresh bamboo began to arrive from Baoxing county, another giant panda habitat, some 50 km south-west of Wolong, he said.

“The road conditions are very bad and transportation takes much longer than normal. But thank goodness, the worst food crisis is almost over.”

The earthquake left five workers of the Wolong centre dead, two pandas injured and six pandas missing, though four of them returned and workers are still looking for the other two.

The centre’s food reserves lasted only for two days and the pandas had to make do with rice porridge on the third day, said Zhang.

The state forestry administration ordered an emergency shipment of 1,500 kg of bamboo and other food for the pandas last Sunday. But that did not last long.

On Friday, the centre sent six pandas to Ya’an, another giant panda breeding base that was less affected by the quake.

Eight other pandas arrived in Beijing Saturday, as part of a plan to add festivity to the Olympic Games opening Aug 8.

They have moved into an 800-square-meter new home at the Beijing Zoo, which consists of seven pens, all air-conditioned and with round-the-clock monitoring devices, and four play areas.

Authorities of the Beijing Zoo said they had guaranteed an extra 240 kg of fresh bamboo and bamboo shoots for the newcomers, as well as apples, carrots, milk powder and corn bread.

“The remaining 47 pandas at the Wolong base are all safe and sound, including ‘Tuan Tuan’ and ‘Yuan Yuan’, the panda couple expected to be sent to Taiwan,” said Zhang.

The centre might transfer more pandas to other habitats as 14 of their 32 pens were destroyed.

The Wolong centre is deep in the hills north of Chengdu, the Sichuan provincial capital, along a winding, two-lane road that has been partially blocked by landslides.

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