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Zookeeper attacked by giant panda at Pairi Daiza animal park

A giant panda eats bamboo in its enclosure at the Pairi Daiza animal park, in Brugelette. (BELGA PHOTO THIERRY ROGE)
07:26 22/03/2021

A zookeeper at Pairi Daiza was injured by a giant panda on Saturday afternoon, the animal park said in a statement. The incident occurred in the indoor enclosure where panda Tian Bao is kept.

"For a reason that is still under investigation, a zookeeper who has been working at Pairi Daiza for many years has come into direct contact with the four-year-old giant panda Tian Bao, in a corridor whose access is strictly reserved for the zookeepers,” the statement read. “The panda seriously injured its keeper, including injuries to the leg and an arm."

A quick intervention by colleagues allowed the panda to be removed without the animal being hurt before first aid was given to the zookeeper. The victim’s injuries were not life threatening. The zookeeper was then taken to a nearby hospital for further treatment.

Security protocols at Pairi Daiza normally prohibit direct contact between humans and giant pandas once they reach the age of two or a weight of 70kg, the statement said.

"Giant pandas are above all solitary animals that do not tolerate intrusion into their territory. The zookeeper, who has worked with giant pandas for several years, knew about these safety procedures," the statement from Pairi Daiza read. The incident is the first of its kind to happen at the animal park since it opened in 1994.

Written by Nick Amies