The video shows keepers picking up the pandas and throwing them to the ground.
If you love pandas (and really, who doesn’t) prepare to be outraged. On Thursday, July 27, surveillance footage from the Chengdu Research Base in China surfaced, and it reveals caretakers physically abusing two of the giant panda cubs, Rourou and Manman. The facility is a popular tourist destination but after this news goes viral, will likely cease to be in the future.
In the two-minute video, the panda babies eagerly attempt to escape their concrete exposure. Because they are playful creatures, the getaway attempt shouldn’t be surprising. However, as they crawl toward the door, one of the staff members roughly grabs, shoves and throws the cubs to the ground.
According to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, the keeper in the video is Guo Jingpeng. After the surveillance sparked outrage among animal rights activist, Jingpeng explained that he was feeding the cubs milk when they began to play. “It bit my hand really hard, its teeth cut into the flesh and my hand started bleeding,” Jingpeng said. “When it tried to bite me again, I pushed it away out of instinct.”
The panda keeper claims the footage was edited down from 50 minutes of footage to make his “natural reaction” appear worse than it was. Reportedly, fellow staffers agreed that this behavior can be an issue with panda cubs.
Wu Kongju, for instance, a research assistant at the base, said: “When we saw the video, we thought the staff members had overreacted, even though they meant no harm to the pandas. But we hope people can show more understanding towards the panda keepers because although giant pandas look cute, they are quite strong and can be violent.”
The BBC reports that few are buying the explanation. Commenters on Chinese social media have pointed out that the Jingpeng was not wearing any protective gear or gloves when handling the cubs. After the facility gained negative press from the ordeal, the Chengdu Research Base asked its staff to treat the pandas more “gently” in cases of biting and scratching. Despite acknowledging that the pandas were treated too roughly, Jingpen has not yet been asked to step down.
Pandas may be seen as a national treasure in China and are closely protected by the government, but incidents of violence against the furry mammals continue to take place. As This is because giant panda conservation efforts have turned into a multi-million dollar industry. As a result, many breeding programs are raising cubs without any intention of turning them free in the wild. The Dodo reports, “In facilities such as Chengdu, cubs are regularly taken from their mothers right after birth and raised separately until they are ready to be displayed in a nursery or lent to a foreign zoo at a considerable cost. Adult female pandas are continuously drugged and inseminated, with births seen as a numbers game by the programs.”
Watch the footage from the Chengdu Research Base:
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