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Touring pandas get better protection

(China Daily)

13:04, August 09, 2011

New regulations were issued to protect pandas loaned out for exhibitions in China, banning the collection of blood or semen, or loaning the pandas to a third party during the exhibition period.

"It is a comprehensive regulation, exclusive to the exhibition of giant pandas in China, aiming to provide more protection for the endangered animals," Zhang Shanning, an official at the State Forestry Administration, told China Daily on Monday.

He said the measures were preventive and not a response to the injury of giant pandas.

"No giant pandas were injured or died due to blood and semen collection during their exhibition in China. No reports of loaning to a third party have been reported," he said.

Giant pandas can be exhibited for purposes such as raising public awareness of environmental protection or celebrating major activities, like the Olympic Games in Beijing or the Expo in Shanghai, Zhang said. Exhibitions with the sole purpose of making money would be prohibited under the new regulation, which takes effect on Sept 1.

"Zoos, which are the majority of exhibition organizers, are forbidden from having extra fees when visitors go to see the loaned pandas," Zhang said. "But the Beijing Zoo is an exception. It needs an extra fee for its panda house for historical reasons."

In the second half of 2010, three deaths of giant pandas due to disease or accident had been reported during their exhibition period in zoos in Beijing, Nanjing and Jinan.

Zhang Hemin, chief of the administrative bureau of the Wolong Natural Reserve, confirmed that they took every effort to protect the endangered species.

"Never did we loan giant pandas to unqualified zoos."

The new regulation stated that only artificially bred pandas would be put on exhibition.

Giant pandas younger than two years old or older than 25 years old would also not be put on exhibition.

Qiu Jian, an official in charge of protection of wild animals of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Forestry, said most loaned pandas were provided by Sichuan province, which is home to about 260 captive-bred giant pandas, accounting for more than 83 percent in the world.

"Actually, such restrictions on exhibition organizers had been listed in the contract when we loaned giant pandas. But now they will become regulations, giving harsher punishment to anyone who violates them. This will protect giant pandas better," Qiu said.

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