Zoo in China denies allegations of panda abuse

In one of several pictures which have gone viral, 22-year-old Shulan is seen in its enclosure with what appears to be a wound on its back. The zoo said the panda was cut by the shape edges of bamboo during feeding.
In one of several pictures which have gone viral, 22-year-old Shulan is seen in its enclosure with what appears to be a wound on its back. The zoo said the panda was cut by the shape edges of bamboo during feeding.PHOTO: WEIBO ACCOUNT OF CCTV

BEIJING • A zoo in north-west China has denied mistreating the country's national symbol after pictures of an injured panda went viral online.

It said the 22-year-old animal was cut by the sharp edges of bamboo during feeding last Friday, reported Chinese media.

A patch of fur on its back was stained with antiseptic iodine solution applied to treat the wound, said Mr Lei Qinghai, head of Lanzhou Zoo.

"The red spot looks large because the medicine spread as the panda moved," he told Beijing Youth Daily.

"From a distance, people may get the impression that the wound is large."

The panda's 1cm-long cut has since healed, he added.

The health of the animal named Shulan became a talking point after netizens uploaded images showing what appears to be bloodstained fur on its back.

"She seems so thin," wrote Wangrourourou, who posted the photos on Twitter-like Weibo last Wednesday.

Other Weibo users questioned if the zoo in north-west Gansu province had abused the panda.

The national State Forestry Administration announced on Weibo that it will look into the case, and urged the zoo to better manage the panda's health, reported Global Times yesterday.

This is not the first time that the Lanzhou Zoo has been accused of abusing pandas.

In 2013, netizens raised concerns after photos surfaced of another panda, Lanzai, looking "dirty" and "lethargic".

Net users had complained that the animal's enclosure was dirty and poorly maintained, news site thepaper.cn reported on Sunday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Zoo in China denies allegations of panda abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe