A lesser panda saved from the clutches of death last Friday has
become the star attraction at Chengdu Zoo in Sichuan Province.
Visitors are flocking to the zoo for a glimpse of the animal,
also known as the red or small panda, recovering from an
afternoon-long ordeal in the Heishuihe Nature Reserve in Dayi
Deng Jiabo, a vet with the
Chengdu Zoo, gives the rescued lesser panda a physical check-up.
The panda is recovering well and may be sent back to where it was
found or cared for in the zoo.
The creature was found amid snow-covered trees in the highlands
by the reserve's employee, Xing Chunming.
"It was covered with snow and frozen stiff," said Xing.
Xing brought the panda down from the branches with the help of
colleagues and wrapped the poor beast in his clothes.
The rescuers contacted the reserve's administrative department
and the Dayi County forestry bureau, which arranged to meet them on
the highway at the foot of the mountain.
Buffeted by heavy snowfall and faced with slippery roads 2,800m
above sea level, the group spent more than three hours to reach the
ambulance waiting for them.
When Xing transferred the panda to the ambulance, the creature
stirred from the warmth and opened its eyes.
"It suddenly clawed my left arm and even injured me slightly,"
The animal was rushed to the zoo and arrived after 8 pm. Vets
from the city's wildlife rescue center gave it shots, measured its
temperature and collected blood samples to see if it was running a
"Tests showed the panda did not suffer from any fracture and was
not running a fever," said Tian Yuzhong, chief of the Chengdu
On the first two days after its arrival in the center, the panda
ate little and showed little interest in bamboo leaves.
"Lesser pandas are omnivorous in the wild. They prey on birds,
eat their eggs and survive on bamboo leaves. Bamboo leaves are
their favorite food," Tian said.
But the panda is getting used to apples, carrot and buns the zoo
"The buns are nutritious, being made of fish and bone meal,
vitamins and milk powder," Tian said.
"It looks scared whenever people enter its den. So we have only
a keeper and vet to take care of it," said Tian, who added the
panda is an adult male weighing 5 kg. Its age cannot be determined,
To everyone's delight, the panda is recovering well and may be
sent back to where it was found or cared for in the zoo.
"According to State regulations, departments in charge of
forestry will decide whether rescued wild animals should be sent
back to the wild or kept in zoos," said Zhu Shang, the chief of the
wildlife protection section of the Chengdu gardening and forestry
Wang Qiang, the chief of the city's wildlife rescue center, said
the center has rescued 98 wild animals since it was established in
the zoo last November.
Set up in 1953, the Chengdu Zoo, which has three giant pandas on
display, won the Global 500 environmental award from the United
Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in 1989 for its contributions
to the lives of giant pandas.
In the 1980s, Fargesia spathacea Franch - a type of bamboo the
giant panda eats - blossomed nationwide.
The bears faced food shortages as the bamboo they like flowered
and died without being replaced.
"The Chengdu Zoo has saved lots of hungry and sick pandas from
the wild," Tian said.
(China Daily November 15, 2007)