BEIJING – A Chinese man who sued local government officials over an attack by a wild panda has won more than $80,000 in compensation, his lawyer said Monday.
The animals are renowned for their lovable appearance but despite their placid, bamboo-chewing image they are members of the bear family and have a fearsome bite.
The animal wandered into Liziba village, in the northwestern province of Gansu, where local officials trying to capture it chased it onto Guan Quanzhiâ€™s land, the Lanzhou Evening News reported.
â€œI saw a panda jump out in front of me, its body completely covered in mud,â€ he told the newspaper.
The creature bit him in the leg and only released its grip when another villager covered its head with a coat, the report said, and the incident in March last year left Quan with injuries requiring seven hours of surgery.
The panda escaped.
Quanâ€™s son sued local forestry officials and the nearby Baishuijiang National Nature Reserve, which is home to more than 100 wild pandas.
Following â€œnegotiationsâ€œ, officials agreed to pay compensation of 520,000 yuan ($83,000), his lawyer Wang Chaohui told AFP.
Quan is â€œsatisfied with the amountâ€œ, which will cover his medical bills, he said, adding that he may need further operations.
The giant pandaâ€™s natural habitat mostly lies in mountainous southwestern China. They have a notoriously low reproductive rate and are under pressure from factors such as habitat loss.
The number of wild giant pandas rose nearly 17 percent over the decade to 2013 to reach 1,864, state media cited an official survey data as saying this month, with a government agency crediting conservation measures for the increase.
Pandas are a major generator of tourist revenue in several parts of China and for Beijing, which capitalises on the global fascination with the animals by renting them to foreign zoos.
They have been known to attack humans, including in 2008 when a panda mauled a 20-year-old man who climbed into its enclosure at a zoo in southern China.
The nature conservation organisation WWF says on its website: â€œAs cuddly as they may look, a panda can protect itself as well as most other bears,â€ using its heavy weight, strong jaw muscles and large molar teeth.
It cautions: â€œAlthough used mainly for crushing bamboo, a panda bite can be very nasty.â€ – AFP