wild panda chase!
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Last update: July 18, 2005 at 2:24 PM
Wild panda leads city on chase
Published July 18, 2005
BEIJING A wild panda that strayed into a southwestern Chinese city over the weekend scaled a fence, hopped from roof to roof, swam in a river and napped in a tree before it was caught, a news agency reported.
The panda led residents of Dujiangyan in Sichuan province on a chase after wandering into the town and spending the day there, the Xinhua News Agency said.
Experts cited by Xinhua said the 4- to 5-year-old female weighed about 130 pounds and could have been looking for a mate or have been driven from home by her mother.
The saga began Saturday when three men drinking beer spotted a figure "nimbly'' climbing over a fence surrounding a housing estate, Xinhua said.
The men and residents gave chase, thinking it was a thief trying to break in, but changed tactics when they realized it was a panda.
Some people blocked entrances to the housing estate, while others searched for the animal and found it calmly sitting on the roof of a bungalow, Xinhua said.
Efforts to reach the animal failed as it began running from roof to roof before hopping off 20 minutes later, climbing another gate and disappearing.
"The panda was amazingly agile and totally different from those at zoos,'' Xinhua quoted one woman as saying.
Police found the panda again a few hours later after receiving a report that it was taking a dip at a nearby river. It later hunkered down for the night in a tree.
Xinhua said the animal was tranquilized the next morning.
Li Desen, a zoologist at the province's Wolong giant panda research center, said the panda suffers from liver and kidney disease and hurt her paws during her escapade.
The animal hasn't eaten anything, although the center has prepared fresh bamboo leaves and glucose for her, Li said.
"She was obviously scared during the adventure,'' he said. "She's probably not feeling well either.''
The panda is now under 24-hour intensive care, Li said.
China regards the panda as an unofficial national mascot, but the animal's limited diet, threatened natural habitat and agonizingly slow reproduction rate has kept its numbers down.
There are an estimated 1,590 wild pandas and another 120 in Chinese breeding facilities and zoos most in Sichuan.
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