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Panda bites man, again

By Wei Na (Global Times)

08:10, May 21, 2012

(Global Times Photo)

A Beijing Zoo panda fended off another intruder from his enclosure at the weekend, the fourth such incident of an over-eager sightseer trying to get up close and personal with the same not-so-cuddly creature.

Gugu, a 13-year-old panda, bit the man on the leg on Friday, although the zoo administration yesterday said they were unaware of the incident.

"Gugu has been harassed by visitors several times who ended up getting hurt. We've built steel wire barriers around the enclosure while trying not to block the view," said Ye Mingxia, zoo publicity officer.

"We don't think it's proper to make Gugu look like a violent and dangerous animal. He probably didn't injure anyone on Friday," said Ye.

However, microblogger "Yanyansaner" posted a series of pictures of a man standing in front of a panda on Friday, captioned "a moron jumped into a panda's reserve to take close-ups, but got attacked."

The 110-kilogram panda has never been a hospitable host to intruders.

He bit a drunk man from Henan Province on the right leg on September 19, 2006, who had jumped in the enclosure and tried to hug him. A year later, a man from Hebei Province was bitten on both legs after disturbing Gugu during his lunch time.

Like the previous victims, the third man, who climbed in to retrieve a toy for his son, received bite injuries on the legs in January, 2009, which gave Gugu an international reputation, being described as "not your typical soft and cuddly giant panda" by CNN.

"Pandas have defensive behaviors, especially to strangers. Obviously zoo authorities have failed to deliver effective measures to prevent further incidents," said Qi Dunwu, an animal ecology expert with a Sichuan panda research center.

"And of course, the visitors should have had some awareness that if they break the rules, they could get hurt," said Qi.

Yesterday, visitors were obeying the sign on Gugu's enclosure, which says in Chinese and English: "I'm a loner and I have teeth that bite."

But neither were there any staff or keepers to keep an eye on visitors, who were standing on rocks above the barriers, while a panda was walking around not far away.

The man alleged to have been bitten by Gugu was taken to the security department on Friday and there was no serious injury to his leg, reported the Legal Mirror yesterday.

Guo Yingguang contributed to this story

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