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Zoo tries to lift panda's spirits with new swing

By Hu Yongqi in Kunming | China Daily | Updated: 2014-04-16 07:07

A TV and a swing are among the facilities that have been set up in a giant panda's enclosure at a zoo in Yunnan province in efforts to cheer her up after her last pal returned to her hometown last month.

Sijia, a panda living at the Yunnan Wildlife Park in Kunming, started to feel low after her friend Meiqian returned to Ya'an, Sichuan province, on March 31. In the first several days after Meiqian's departure, Sijia ignored the keepers and was not interested in her food.

In May 2008, the pandas were displaced from their homes in Sichuan after a magnitude-8 earthquake struck the province, affecting the animals' habitats and threatening their safety.

Three pandas - Sijia, Meiqian and Qianqian - were then brought to the Kunming wildlife park's panda house, which is located in a mountain valley and features a 400-sq-m playground.

In 2012, when the pandas were scheduled to return to Sichuan, Kunming residents petitioned to let the animals stay. But still Qianqian left for home that year, followed by Meiqian in March, leaving Sijia alone, said Bai Tuo, a senior keeper at the park.

After finding she was in low spirits, workers at the park installed a swing for her. A television set was later set up to broadcast videos of the three pandas being raised at the park. The keepers hope the images of her old friends will help to comfort Sijia.

Meanwhile, the keepers also placed a fake panda, which is the same size as Meiqian, in Sijia's enclosure in attempt to ease the 8-year-old panda's loneliness.

To give Sijia a good living environment, Feng Guilin, a senior keeper at the park, and his colleagues spend at least three hours each morning cleaning the panda house.

All the waste must be taken out and burned to ensure no parasites survive.

Sijia now weighs more than 115 kg and is entering sexual maturity.

The park officials said they will try other ways to amuse Sijia as long as she is in their care.

Li Yingqing contributed to this story.

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