Wild pandas are cute. They are also wild. No one knows better than Wei Hua, a veteran keeper who was severely mauled by a panda last week at a wild animal protection center in Sichuan Province.
Wei, 41, was rescued by colleagues after 16-year-old female Ximei bit him numerous times, then dragged him across the ground in an enclosure at the Tiantai Training Center in Wolong on December 17.
The extent of the injuries are horrific: two broken wrists, feet tendons torn, bite gashes and part of his left hand missing.
Wei, a keeper with the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, is still baffled by the attack.
"I still don't know if she wanted more to eat, or if she was playing," said Wei, who had previous contact with Ximei.
Wei and two others were overseeing a habitat for the mother and her cub, Baxi. But after two days of not seeing the panda pair, Wei became worried and entered to find them.
After locating both mother and cub, Wei and team made their way back. But Ximei rushed to block their exit.
A second attempt to leave prompted the panda to attack.
"After about five minutes, my colleagues were able to get her attention and pulled a piece of clothing that was blocking her eyes. Then she relaxed her grip," said Wei.
He was rushed from the remote center to a nearby clinic where he was treated for massive blood loss, then transferred to a Chengdu hospital for reconstructive surgery.
Wei is in stable condition and casts no blame. "I've forgiven her. I'm an expert in the field, and know what wild animals are capable of," said Wei from his hospital bed.