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Giant Panda destined for Taiwan found after 5 days
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Yuan Yuan, one of a pair of giant pandas destined to be presented to Taiwan, ran away in terror when the May 12 earthquake struck, but keepers recovered her after 5 days.

Yuan Yuan and her mate Tuan Tuan were lucky to escape unhurt. A falling rock destroyed their living enclosure, but fortunately they were playing outside at the time.

Keepers managed to calm Tuan Tuan enough to get him to a safe place, said Li Desheng, the reserve's deputy admin director, but he still walks tentatively, placing each paw carefully as if expecting the ground to give way beneath him.

The Wolong Giant Panda Reserve, home to 86 pandas, was severely damaged by the earthquake and both roads and communications lines were cut.

Bamboo, the pandas' primary source of food, can no longer be gathered locally because of the devastation caused by the quake, so Sichuan Forestry Department dispatched six trucks with a police escort to deliver 6,000 kg bamboo to feed the hungry pandas. The trucks finally arrived on May 19, after a 20 hour off-road drive over 4,500 meter mountains.

The pandas were soon back to their normal playful selves after munching on the fresh bamboo. Tuan Tuan finished his bamboo and tried to snatch Yuan Yuan's, but later they both ate in peace.

Admin director Zhang Hemin said that the reserve was particularly grateful for donations they had received from Taiwan. He hoped that appointment of Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwanese leader means that Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan will soon be able to travel to Taiwan.

Eight pandas have been moved down the mountain where they can be cared for better; 53 remain at the reserve, of which some are slightly injured. Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, however, are both fine.

The earthquake destroyed 14 out of 32 panda enclosures, and severely damaged 18 others. The pandas were moved to temporary accommodation, which is rather cramped. As soon as it is practicable they will be moved down the mountain to a more comfortable and accessible location that can be regularly supplied with food and medical supplies.

(China.org.cn by Wei Hongxia, May 21, 2008)

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