- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

12:41 p.m.

BEIJING (AP) — A drunken Chinese migrant worker jumped into a panda enclosure at the Beijing Zoo, was bitten by the bear and retaliated by chomping down on the animal’s back, state media said today.

Zhang Xinyan, from the central province of Henan, drank four jugs of beer at a restaurant near the zoo before visiting Gu Gu the panda yesterday, the Beijing Morning Post said.

“He felt a sudden urge to touch the panda with his hand” and jumped into the enclosure, the newspaper said.

The panda, who was asleep, was startled and bit Mr. Zhang, 35, on the right leg, it said. Mr. Zhang got angry and kicked the panda, who then bit Mr. Zhang’s other leg. A tussle ensued, the paper said.

“I bit the fellow in the back,” Mr. Zhang was quoted as saying in the newspaper. “Its skin was quite thick.” Other tourists yelled for a zookeeper, who got the panda under control by spraying it with water, reports said. Mr. Zhang was hospitalized.

Newspaper photographs showed Mr. Zhang lying on a hospital bed with blood-soaked bandages and a seam of stitches running down his leg.

The Beijing Youth Daily quoted Mr. Zhang as saying he had seen pandas on television and “they seemed to get along well with people.”

“No one ever said they would bite people,” Mr. Zhang said. “I just wanted to touch it. I was so dizzy from the beer. I don’t remember much.”

Ye Mingxia, a spokeswoman for the Beijing Zoo, confirmed that the incident had happened but would not give any details. She said Gu Gu was “healthy.”

“We’re not considering punishing him now,” Mrs. Ye said in a telephone interview. “He’s suffered quite a bit of shock.”



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