College Student Gets Bear Bite Instead of hug
The Associated Press reported via CNN that a college student in Southern China who climbed into a panda bear's habitat on Friday in hopes of getting a hug was bitten by the bear instead, state media and a park employee said.
The park employe, who refused to give his name, said the student was visiting Qixing Park with classmates when he jumped over the 6.5-foot high fence around the panda's enclosure.
The park in Guilin, a popular tourist town in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, features a small zoo and a panda exhibit. It was almost empty when the student jumped the fence surrounding the panda, called Yang Yang, the employee said.
He said the student was bitten on the arms and legs. Park officials were notified when two foreign visitors who witnessed the attack ran to get help from two workers at a concession stand close by, the employee said.
The student was pale but coherent when medics came to take him away, 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 official Xinhua News Agency.
Liu had surgery Friday evening and is in good condition, but will be 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 be suffering from any psychological effects, the park employee said.
He said he was unsure whether the park would put up more signs or fences around the panda habitat.
"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 have an image as gentle, lovable creatures, but they are still wild animals that will attack if they feel startled or threatened.
A panda at the Beijing Zoo tore chunks out of a teenager's legs last year after he jumped a barrier when the bear was being fed.
The same panda bit a drunk tourist in 2006 when the man broke into the bear's habitat and tried to hug him while he was sleeping. The tourist retaliated by biting the bear in the back.