China’s big quake scares its giant pandas

Beijing, April 22 (IANS) A powerful earthquake that rocked China scared the giant pandas and they are now being provided psychological therapy.

In the 7.0-magnitude quake that jolted southwest China’s Sichuan province, giant pandas have become special “victims”, reported Xinhua.

Although no deaths or injuries of pandas were reported so far, the rare species at Bifengxia Panda base, located 50 km away from the epicenter in Longmen county, Ya’an city, were found scared by the devastating quake.

Ya’an is home to giant pandas.

In 1869, a French missionary Armand David discovered the giant pandas in Baoxing county, making them known to the world.

According to the video captured by the camera surveillance, when the quake occurred at 8.02 a.m. Saturday, the pandas were slack-jawed for a while, and then some of them climbed onto trees, and some others flee, said Heng Yi, a spokesman with the base.

“Those daring ones remained calm, while the timid ones suffered from shock,” he said, adding the pandas needs extra care and even psychological therapy.

Breeders provided abundant food for the pandas to assure them “nothing is wrong”, and for those young cubs who were scared the most, breeders will play with them to ease their tension, said a director surnamed Wang in charge of animal management of the base.

“Breeders’ close-distance communications will help comfort the pandas,” said Wang.

There are 61 giant pandas at the base, and nearly half of them were moved here from the Wolong Natural Reserve five years ago, when 8.0-magnitude earthquake happened near the area.

People in Wolong also felt the tremor this time, but no casualties of human beings and pandas were caused, said Zhang Hemin, chief of Wolong Natural Reserve.

Fengtongzhai Natural Reserve, located in northeastern Baoxing county and 80 km away from the epicenter Lushan, was also a habitat for wild pandas. There are about 40 pandas in the reserve.

Quake-triggered landslides disrupted the road traffic and water supply of the reserve, and the conditions of the pandas there is not known yet.

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