Panda Finds Way Home to Reserve After China Quake

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(Read: "Pandas Sensed China Quake Coming?" [May 15, 2008].)

Xinhua also reported that the magnitude 8 quake—the worst in three decades in China—had toppled all 32 panda houses.

Brody—who has been in contact with USCEF staff who survived the quake—said the temblor did damage to some panda "shelters," or small buildings inside each enclosure.

But he clarified that the panda pens and yards are still mostly intact, and the panda center is still operational, he said.

The Wolong personnel still caring for the pandas in the devastated area are putting their lives in danger, Brody emphasized.

Landslides due to aftershocks and heavy rains are still a threat on mountainsides surrounding the panda center. A massive landslide has already blocked off the entrance to the center, forcing staff to use ladders to climb in and out, Brody added.

The local government in Wolong has ensured the reserve's pandas have supplies and that its staff is receiving sufficient food and relief tents, Brody added.

Tense Situation

Relief efforts have been hindered in the farther reaches of the 772-square-mile (2,000-square-kilometer) reserve, where power and phones lines are still down and landslides have wiped out the area's only highway.

Ninety percent of homes in parts of the reserve have been leveled, Brody said.

In the provincial capital of Chengdu, where Brody's USCEF staff were evacuated, the mood is tense, according to an email sent to Brody by staff member Hu Guolin.

For the second straight night, the local government has asked its citizens not to sleep inside for fear of a major aftershock.

"Most of the citizen[s] [are] living outdoor[s]," Hu wrote. "Nobody is willing to stay inside."

"I'm also worr[ied] there will be a big earthquake again nearby Chengdu."

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