China sends emergency relief to quake-hit pandas
BEIJING (Reuters) - China has sent emergency bamboo-shoot rations to pandas at a reserve in the Sichuan earthquake zone because no one there is collecting it for them, state media said on Thursday.
China's most devastating earthquake in decades killed 47 people around its largest panda breeding centre in the southwest, a government website said on Wednesday.
Thirty-five others at the Wolong Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda were seriously injured, the State Forestry Administration said.
The government had sent 4,500 kg of bamboo, 1,050 kg of bamboo shoots and huge quantities of apples, soybean, eggs, milk powder and other food items to feed the giant pandas at the centre, the newspaper said.
"The supply of bamboo had been suspended because people stopped collecting it from the mountains after the quake," the China Daily quoted a wildlife protection official as saying.
Two of the centre's 53 pandas were injured and six went missing. But four had returned by Tuesday and the injured had received medical treatment, the newspaper said.
Eight pandas, chosen to entertain tourists during the Olympic Games, have been sent to the provincial capital of Chengdu and will be flown to Beijing on Saturday.
The centre suffered extensive damage because it is just 30 km from the epicenter of the May 12 quake which is estimated to have killed 50,000 people.
"There was only water (for the pandas) for a few days after the quake," Xiong Beirong, a Sichuan provincial forestry department official, was quoted as saying.
Most of the about 1,590 pandas living in China's wild are found in Sichuan. The rest of them are in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Another 180 have been bred in captivity.
The Wolong centre is deep in the mountains north of Chengdu along a winding, two-lane road that was partially blocked by landslides after the quake.
(Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)