A college student in southern China was bitten by a panda after he broke into the bear's enclosure hoping to get a hug, a park employee said Saturday.
A giant panda drinks milk at the China Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong, southwest China's Sichuan province, in this file photo taken on October 9, 2007. [China Daily]
The student was visiting Qixing Park with classmates on Friday when he jumped the 6.5-foot (2-meter) -high fence around the panda's habitat, said the park employee, who refused to give his name.
The park in Guilin, a popular tourist town in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, houses a small zoo and a panda exhibit. It was virtually deserted when the student scaled the fence surrounding the panda, named Yang Yang, the employee said.
He said the student was bitten in the arms and legs. Two foreign visitors who saw the attack ran to get help from workers at a nearby refreshment stand, who notified park officials, the employee said.
The student was pale as he was taken away by medics but appeared clear-headed, he said.
"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack," the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said in a local hospital, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
Liu underwent surgery Friday evening and was out of danger, but will remain in the hospital for several days, Xinhua said.
Yang Yang, who was flown to Guilin last year from Sichuan province, was behaving normally on Saturday and did not seem to suffer any negative psychological effects, the park employee said.
He said it was not clear whether the facility would add more signs around the enclosure or put more fences up.
"We cannot make it like a prison. We already have signs up warning people not to climb in," he said. "There are no fences along roads but people know not to cross if there are cars. This is basic knowledge."
Pandas, which generally have a public image as cute, gentle creatures, are nonetheless wild animals that can be violent when provoked or startled.
Last year, a panda at the Beijing Zoo attacked a teenager, ripping chunks out of his legs, when he jumped a barrier while the bear was being fed.
The same panda was in the news in 2006 when he bit a drunk tourist who broke into his enclosure and tried to hug him while he was asleep.The tourist retaliated by biting the bear in the back.