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6 pandas moved to new shelter after quake
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Six pandas were moved on Friday from a major panda base in Wolong in southwest China's Sichuan Province because of damaged shelters and a food shortage after the earthquake, a local forestry official said.

The pandas were transferred by truck from the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center and arrived at about 8:20 p.m. at their new home in Ya'an, another base less affected by the quake, said Xiong Beirong, an official with the Sichuan provincial forestry bureau.

The Wolong center was only 30 kilometers from the epicenter of the May 12 earthquake, which has claimed more than 55,000 lives.

"There is enough water now, but food is still a major problem. The pandas are in urgent need of bamboo and apple," she said.

She said center staff had repaired some of the damaged panda shelters after the earthquake, but they collapsed again in strong after-shocks.

The supply of bamboo was suspended as residents, struggling to cope with their own losses, stopped gathering bamboo for the pandas.

After the earthquake, large quantities of bamboo shoots, apple, soybean, egg, milk powder and medicine were brought to the center, but the supplies could only last about a week, she said.

The Ya'an base housed 22 pandas prior to the arrival of the six animals on Friday.

"There are only 20 shelters," said Zhou Xiaoping, who is in charge of the Ya'an base. "It would be perfect if every panda could have a shelter of its own. So we rebuilt the shelters to provide them with enough room."

For the sake of safety, all the six pandas from Wolong were females.

The Wolong center has a registered population of 86 pandas, including those on loan to other facilities. On Friday, staff were still looking for two pandas that have been missing from the center since the earthquake.

Separately, nearly 20 reserves for wild pandas at Minshan Mountain sustained great damage from the earthquake. No information about the pandas was immediately available because it was difficult to keep track of wild pandas, said a spokesman of the World Wildlife Foundation on Friday.

(Xinhua News Agency May 24, 2008)

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