April 22, 2013

CHINA: Shaken By Earthquake, Giant Pandas In China Refuse To Climb Down From Trees

[AFP photo]
The Times of India
written by Staff
Sunday April 21, 2013

BEIJING - The massive earthquake in China's Sichuan province, which is the home of endangered giant pandas, has shaken the cuddly animals so badly that they are refusing to come down from the trees they had climbed out of fear.

Officials in the area were quoted by state-run CCTV as saying that most of the furry animals had climbed on to trees when the quake struck and were refusing to come down.

All the pandas are meanwhile reported to be safe in breeding facilities located in Ya'an in Sichuan province.

The animals are exclusively found in the province which was also the epicenter of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that has killed over 200 people.

"Giant pandas are timid in nature. Some of the pandas in our centre have experienced the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008," said Ren Yao, a staff member at the Bifengxia Panda Base, located 50 km away from the epicenter in Longmen county.

"These pandas were frightened by the quake. Staff comforted them immediately and now they all remain emotionally stable," Ren added.

While the 60 giant pandas and nearly 100 staff at the base are safe, buildings here have suffered minor damages, Heng Yi, director of the base's publicity department, told official Chinese media.

The animals were discovered in 1869 by Armand David, a French missionary who introduced the giant pandas to the West.

Declared as endangered species in China, these pandas live predominantly in the seven nature reserves in Sichuan province, most of which have been affected by major earthquakes over the past years.

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