December 2016, China

Country: China

Location: Wolong National Nature Reserve

Date: 17 December 2016

Panda: Ximei


A worker at China’s Wolong National Nature Reserve entered an enclosure to check on a panda cub. The cub’s mother, 16 year-old Ximei, attacked the worker. Wei Hua had been working with giant pandas since 2013, so was aware of the dangers. According to the GB Times:

Wei’s hamstrings, as well as the carpal bones in both of his hands were broken, and nearly a third of his left palm was bitten off.

Xinhua has pictures of the mother and her cub. The one of Wei in recovery is not recommended for sensitive readers.





October 2016, China

Country: China

Location: Nanchang Zoo, Jiangxi province

Date: 30 October 2016

Panda: Mei Ling


An unidentified young man entered the giant panda enclosure at Nanchang Zoo. According to the South China Morning Post, he “jumped over a 1.3-metre-high perimeter fence, then leapt across a three-metre-deep ditch to reach the playground used by giant pandas”.

Mei Ling was alone in the enclosure and was asleep when the man entered. When he awoke, Mei Ling grabbed the man by his leg and wrestled him to the ground. The panda appeared to be merely playing with the intruder, who managed to escape after a few minutes. Even so, witnesses reported that “his trousers had been badly ripped by the animals teeth and claws”. The International Business Times has video of the incident.


March 2014, China

Country: China

Location: near Baishuijiang National Nature Reserve

Date: 1 March 2014

Panda: wild panda


70 year-old Guan Quanzhi had his right leg seriously injured by a wild panda. The panda was being chased by more than 200 villagers and wildlife officials. When the frightened panda encountered Guan picking tea leaves on his farm, it bit his right leg and did not let go until someone covered the panda’s head with a coat. The panda then escaped.

Gaun’s injuries included leg and ankle fractures, as well as severed arteries. He required 7 hours of surgery and a 57 day hospital stay. (That link contains an image of the injuries after surgery and skin grafts, but the extent of the damage is clearly visible. Sensitive readers are warned that the image may be upsetting.) Guan’s son was quoted on as saying,

The doctor said my father was lucky enough to avoid an amputation, but he may be incapable of working in the future.

A Tale of Two Ling Lings

Each of the last two posts here documented an attack on a human by a giant panda named Ling Ling. But although both pandas were named Ling Ling, it is important to note that they are actually two separate pandas.

The Ling Ling involved in the 1984 incident is a female giant panda. She and her male partner Hsing Hsing were captured in China in 1971. In 1972, following Nixon’s visit to China, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing were given to the US. Although they had five cubs, none survived for long after birth. Ling Ling died in 1992. Hsing Hsing died in 1999.

The Ling Ling involved in the 1995 incident is a male giant panda. He appears to be the same Ling Ling who was part of a pair of pandas who were exhibited in the US in 1987/88. That Ling Ling was born in the Beijing Zoo in September 1985. China exchanged Ling Ling for another panda from the Ueno Zoo in Japan. Ling Ling died in 2008 at the Ueno Zoo.


December 1984, USA

Country: USA

Location: National Zoo, Washington DC

Date: 23 December 1984

Panda: Ling Ling


Keeper Edwin Jacobs was mauled and bitten by Ling Ling, a 14 year-old female panda. Jacobs entered the cage to check on Ling Ling. According to the Times-Post news service, Jacobs had “lacerations on his neck, chest, back, arms and leg”. Although most were superficial. “one or more were deep lacerations that apparently were caused by biting”. Jacobs had 20 years of experience as a keeper and had worked frequently around Ling Ling and her partner Hsing Hsing.

A zoo spokeperson was quoted as saying:

People forget that pandas are wild animals. They are also naturally aggressive and territorial, and when Mr Jacobs entered the enclosure, she responded to it as an intrusion of her space.

Link: Panda’s Keeper Out Of Hospital

February 1995, China

Country: China

Location: Huzhou People’s Park

Date: 26 February 1995

Panda: Ling Ling


A zoo in China was reportedly fined because Ling Ling, a visiting panda, bit a child who got into the cage and “began teasing the animal”.

The boy, 10, was apparently bitten in the legs by Ling Ling. The Associated Press reported:

The China Daily said the boy, Lu Jie, is now disabled.

Link: Panda behind bars: A 10-year-old boy in Huzhou, China, who…

Link: Briefs

1970s, France

Country: France

Location: Vincennes Zoo, Paris

Date: (sometime between 1974 and 1981)

Panda: Yen Yen


Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing was apparently attacked by Yen Yen, a male panda, while visiting his daughter at Vincennes Zoo. Although it happened sometime in the 1970s, Giscard d’Estaing did not speak publicly about the incident until May 2013. The BBC quoted him as saying (in translation):

They came to extract me from its claws but imagine what would have been said had the animal knocked me to the ground,” the famously tall president – he is 1.89m (6ft 2in) – remarked to laughter from the audience.

Iain Valentine, Director of Giant Pandas at the Edinburgh Zoo, told the BBC “Although they are vegetarian bears, obviously at the end of the day pandas are still very powerful and muscular bears with teeth and claws to match”.

Yen Yen was one of two male pandas given to France in 1973 by China. Yen Yen died in January of 2000. The other panda, Li Li, died from a pancreatic tumour only months after arriving in France.



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