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Giant panda bites off US volunteer's thumb
2006-10-18 03:14:38 Shanghai Daily

SHANGHAI, Oct. 18 -- A US volunteer had one fifth of her right thumb bitten off when she was feeding a panda in south China's Sichuan Province yesterday, Xinhua news agency said. The woman has received surgery and is in stable condition.

The foreigner, identified as Lisa, was working as a volunteer in the Wolong panda research and protection center. The center has been calling panda lovers from all over the world to participate in its daily operations since 2004.

Lisa was feeding a giant panda in the center yesterday morning when the incident happened. "The panda became anxious and started to eat faster when it realized that the bamboo Lisa was holding was diminishing," said Zhang Hemin, director of the center.

"It suddenly bit into Lisa's right thumb by accident and wouldn't let go as Lisa screamed loudly," Zhang said.

Lisa lost one fifth of her thumb after she ignored the center keeper's warning to remain still and pulled her thumb from its mouth by force, said the report. She was soon sent to a hospital in Chengdu City after being bandaged in a local clinic.

"Lisa was too eager and forgot the center's guidelines. It was her first close encounter with a real panda," Zhang said.

Li Wei, official with the center's volunteer management department, told the newspaper that the center has welcomed more than 1,200 volunteers from the US, Japan, France and Spain since 2004.

Volunteers, after essential trainings, can serve in the center for one week, 15 days or more than a month, Li said.

"Some may even be lucky enough to view the birth of new panda's if they come during the right season," Li said.

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