Not-so-cuddly panda mauls man in Beijing

January 8th, 2009 - 10:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Jan 8 (DPA) A giant panda at Beijing Zoo mauled an intruder who climbed into its enclosure, state media said Thursday.The 110-kg panda, Gugu, bit the legs of the man who climbed into its pen to retrieve a toy dropped by his young son Wednesday, the Beijing Morning Post said.

The animal’s attack on Zhang, a tourist from the eastern province of Anhui, was its third reported in the last three years.

In 2007, a 15-year-old boy suffered serious leg injuries after Gugu mauled him when he scaled a fence in a attempt to cuddle the panda.

Gugu also bit and seriously injured the leg of a drunken man who climbed into the enclosure to hug it the previous year.

After the latest attack, zoo officials agreed to pay Zhang’s medical expenses but said it was not liable for his injuries as it had posted warning signs outside the enclosure and had staff on duty there, the newspaper said.

State media have reported several other attacks by captive pandas.

A 20-year-old student in southern China’s Guilin city required hospital treatment, including surgery, for serious bites after he scaled a two-metre fence in a bid to cuddle a panda in November.

In another attack in 2006, a giant panda cub bit off part of an American woman’s thumb when it panicked during feeding at a nature reserve in southwest China’s Sichuan province.

More than 180 giant pandas live in captivity around the world, and about 1,590 remain in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan, according to Chinese government statistics.

The animals are threatened by loss of habitat, poaching and a low reproduction rate.

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