28 July 2017
A video appearing to show a keeper mistreating giant pandas at the Chengdu Research and Breeding Base has caused public outrage in China.
The rough treatment inflicted on two curious and eager young pandas was reportedly defended by one keeper, stating that a cub had bitten his hand during feeding. The Chengdu facility, which is famed for breeding giant pandas and supplying them to zoos around the world, apparently called the incident "inappropriate", ordering their staff to treat the pandas ‘gently’, even if they scratch or bite.
Chris Draper, head of animal welfare for Born Free, said: “Breeding pandas in captivity is not the answer to the threats facing pandas and their habitat in the wild, and to see the manner with which these cubs were treated is shocking. These cubs should be with their mothers. The lack of understanding, patience and compassion shown by these keepers is appalling. There can be no excuses for this sort of behaviour”.
The Centre also stated that, although pandas look cute, they can be quite strong and sometimes violent. Despite this acknowledgement, it is well-known that visitors to the facility are encouraged to hold the pandas for souvenir photos.