China Holds Funeral for Panda Killed by Earthquake

Cara Anna in Wolong, China
Associated Press
June 10, 2008

Nearly a month after China's devastating earthquake, the Wolong Nature Reserve held a funeral Tuesday for a panda that was crushed in the temblor.

The world famous panda center was badly damaged by the May 12 quake. Officials initially thought all the pandas had survived and only later discovered that several were missing.

(See photos of the Wolong pandas in the July 2006 issue of Geographic Magazine.)

The Ceremony

Nine-year-old Mao Mao, the mother of five at the breeding center, was found Monday, her body crushed by a wall of her enclosure when the river behind it swelled with landslide debris.

On Tuesday, panda keepers and other workers placed her remains in a small wooden crate and wheeled her quietly to a patch of ground outside the breeding center where a freshly dug hole waited.

The center's director, Zhang Hemin, stood with his cap in hand and then shoveled in a few spades of dirt.

Mao Mao's keeper, He Changgui, stepped forward, crying, and placed two apples and a piece of bread by the covered grave. There were three minutes of silence.

As the others left, the director of the U.S.-based Pandas International, Suzanne Braden put her arm around He.

"You must look after her babies, OK?" she said. "And their babies."

He nodded. "I will go back to see her everyday," he said.

After the Quake

Continued on Next Page >>


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