China quake: Funeral for beloved panda

2008-06-10 00:00

Two pandas play at China Conservative and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Wolong, in China’s south-west Sichuan province, yesterday. Nearly a month after China’s devastating earthquake, the Wolong Nature Reserve had its first panda funeral yesterday.

The world famous panda centre was badly damaged by the May 12 quake, but officials initially thought all 64 pandas had survived. But on Monday, nine-year-old Mao Mao’s body, the mother of five at the breeding centre, was discovered crushed by a wall of her enclosure when the river behind it swelled with landslide debris. Yesterday, panda keepers and other workers placed her remains in a small wooden crate and wheeled her quietly to a patch of ground outside the breeding centre. The centre’s director, Zhang Hemin, stood with his cap in hand. Mao Mao’s keeper stepped forward, crying, and placed two apples and a piece of bread by the covered grave. There were three minutes of silence.

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