Tue, Mar 17, 2015 - Page 5 News List

US$83,000 payout follows panda bite in Chinese province

AFP, BEIJING

A man who sued local Chinese government officials over an attack by a wild panda has won more than US$80,000 in compensation, his lawyer said yesterday.

The animals are renowned for their lovable appearance, but despite their placid, bamboo-chewing image, they are members of the bear family and have a fearsome bite.

The animal wandered into Liziba Village, in the northwestern province of Gansu, where local officials trying to capture it chased it onto Guan Quanzhi’s (關全志) land, the Lanzhou Evening News reported.

“I saw a panda jump out in front of me, its body completely covered in mud,” he told the newspaper.

The creature bit him in the leg and released its grip only when another villager covered its head with a coat, the report said, adding that the incident in March last year left Guan with injuries requiring seven hours of surgery.

The panda escaped.

Guan’s son sued local forestry officials and the nearby Baishuijiang National Nature Reserve, which is home to more than 100 pandas.

Following negotiations, officials agreed to pay compensation of 520,000 yuan (US$83,000), his lawyer Wang Chaohui (王朝暉) told reporters.

Guan is “satisfied with the amount,” which is expected to cover his medical bills, he said, adding that he might need further operations.

The giant panda’s natural habitat mostly lies in mountainous southwestern China. They have a notoriously low reproductive rate and are under pressure from factors such as habitat loss.

The number of wild giant pandas rose nearly 17 percent over the decade ending in 2013 to reach 1,864, Chinese media outlets cited an official survey data as saying this month. A Chinese government agency credited conservation measures for the outcome.

Pandas have been known to attack humans, including in 2008 when a panda mauled a 20-year-old man who climbed into its enclosure at a zoo in China.

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