BEIJING – The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, the main protection center of this vulnerable animal, has been accused of mistreating some of its specimens, official media China Daily reported on Friday.
This is the second time in six months that the center has been accused of mistreating the pandas although it has denied all accusations.
According to the Daily, in several photographs posted on social media, one of the pandas of the reserve, Qi Yi, appears with some strange white crusts in his eye.
The photos triggered protests and accusations that the center was not providing proper medical attention to the animals.
The accusations were accompanied by photos of luxurious facilities in the reserve, and alleged that money allotted for health care of the pandas were being spent on comforts for the center’s officials.
Following these criticisms, the center released a statement explaining that the ocular problems of Qi Yi, which have also been diagnosed in two other pandas of the reserve, are in all likelihood a disease transmitted by mites that is being examined by experts currently.
They also clarified that the luxurious facilities, such as bathrooms and cafes, were meant not for the workers but for visitors to the center, which is a major tourist attraction.
This is not the first time Chengdu has been accused of alleged mistreatment of the pandas.
In July 2017, videos of a caretaker violently pushing pandas and throwing them on the ground were leaked online unleashing widespread outrage.
China is the only natural habitat of the animals and has about 2,100 pandas, out of which 1,800 live in the wild, and more than 300 in captivity.
In September 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature had categorized them from an “endangered” to a “vulnerable” species.