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Food, medicine delivered to hungry pandas
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Huge quantities of bamboo plants, apples and drugs have been sent to hungry pandas in the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center based in Wolong, which is only 30 kilometers from the epicenter of last week's massive earthquake.

The picture published on Wednesday, May 21, 2008 shows staff members of China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong bringing food to the pandas. [Photo: cnsphoto]

The cargo included 4,500 kilograms of bamboo, 1,050 kg of bamboo shoots and apples, soybeans, eggs, milk powder and other foods, the Sichuan provincial forestry department said on Wednesday.

"There was only water [for the pandas] for a few days after the earthquake," said Xiong Beirong, a wildlife protection official with the forestry department.

The supply of bamboo was suspended as local residents, coping with the loss of relatives and homes, halted gathering bamboo from the mountains, according to the official.

The May 12 earthquake left five staff workers of the Wolong-based China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center dead, two pandas injured, six pandas missing and panda houses damaged. The center has 53 pandas.

As of Tuesday morning, four of the six missing pandas had returned to Wolong. Staff have continued to search for the other two.

Injured pandas had received medical treatment, Xiong said. Eight pandas that were selected to entertain tourists during the Olympic Games have been sent to the provincial capital of Chengdu, waiting for a flight to Beijing on May 24.

There are about 1,590 pandas living in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern province of Shaanxi and Gansu. Another 180 have been bred in captivity.

More than 60 pandas at another breeding center in Chengdu were reported safe after the quake. Another eight pandas at a preserve in Ya'an, about an hour's drive west of Chengdu, were safe as well.

The Wolong center is deep in the hills north of Chengdu along a winding, two-lane road that had been partially blocked by landslides.

(Xinhua News Agency May 22, 2008)

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