A drunk man leaped into Beijing Zoo's panda enclosure on Tuesday and found himself
tussling with the paddock's denizen after his initial desire for
"an intimate touch" proved unpopular with the panda. The man was
rescued and hospitalized soon and the panda was isolated, a zoo
Zhang Xinyan, 35, a Henan construction worker working in Renqiu,
Hebei Province, traveled to Beijing for a
two-day visit to see the panda. According to the Beijing
Morning Post, he drank four jugs of beer at a nearby
restaurant before staggering to the panda house.
The incident happened at 2:40 PM. Zhang said he suddenly felt an
urge to touch the panda. Acting on his urge, he removed his coat
and jumped into the panda's playground area profiting from the low
Gu Gu, fast asleep at the time, did not immediately sense his
guest and woke up startled. Zhang later explained that he is
short-sighted and made a beeline for the panda, wanting to see it
clearly and to hug it. Rudely awoken, Gu Gu avenged himself by
sinking his teeth into Zhang's right leg.
As pain jolted through Zhang's leg, a red mist descended over him
and war was declared. To retaliate, Zhang aimed a kick at the bear
which fought back. Furious, Zhang dug his teeth into the bear's
back in a maneuver that only highlighted the evolutionary
advantages pandas possess over men. The tussle continued for 15
minutes until a zookeeper came to the rescue, spraying the panda
with water and rescuing the fighter. Zhang was taken to hospital
while Gu Gu was isolated.
"I used to see pandas on TV. They are so cute and friendly,
eating bamboos and shaking hands with people. How could I imagine
it would bite me?" Zhang said afterwards at the People's
Zoologists explained that the giant panda is actually a wild
animal that will attack when threatened.
The doctor treating the man said the muscle of his right leg was
badly hurt though the bone was unharmed. It will take him at least
two weeks to fully recover and his family has been contacted.
A female official of Beijing Zoo's information office told
China.org.cn in a telephone interview today that they are very
concerned about the man's health, and that no punishment had been
considered as of yet.
"We have paid all his medical bills in advance. He has no money
right now. And if we later find his family's financial situation
isn't good enough, we will not ask him to pay us back. Now we think
the most important thing is to cure him." She said, adding that the
panda was shocked and had lost appetite. "It seems to feel a bit
The police investigating the incident stated that forensic
evidence confirmed Zhang's inebriated state and his violation of
zoo regulations. Police said they will wait until Zhang recovers to
give him punishment.
Wang Baoqiang, vice president of Beijing Zoo, said that the man
should be responsible for his actions, calling him "a grown man,
not a psycho."
However, since unsurprisingly no law exists defending pandas from
being beaten up, the man may not be found guilty of startling and
biting the panda, regarded as one of China's most valuable
Wang also said that Beijing Zoo is installing electric monitors,
one of which will keep an eye on the panda's playground in the
future. He hoped tourists would improve their behavior and follow
the rules, instead of needing to heighten the fence or erect
The zoo and the animal would not be held responsible, said Liu
Zhihui, a civil law professor from China University of Political
Science and Law, since Zhang blithely ignored danger signs around
Zhang Xinyan is not the first to be hurt by the cute-looking
animal. In February 2004, a student was bitten by a panda when he
tried to please his girl by trespassing on the panda's
There is no indication yet as to whether Zhang will challenge
the panda to a rematch.
Gu Gu, the panda.
The danger sign outside
the panda's playground.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Rui and Chris Dalby, September 21,