Chinese Zookeeper Mauled by Despondent Panda

A zookeeper needed more than 100 stitches after a 2-year-old panda bit and scratched him during feeding time at a zoo in northwestern China, a zoo official and a newspaper reported Monday.

The zookeeper was hospitalized after the attack Saturday in Lanzhou, Gansu province, but his life was not in danger, said a woman surnamed Zhou, who is director of the zoo office. The Lanzhou Morning Post said the man needed more than 100 stitches.

The zookeeper was feeding the panda from outside the enclosure, sticking his arms through the wire, when the panda, Lan Zai, grabbed his arms and began biting them and then scratched his legs, Zhou said in a telephone interview.

Lan Zai was transferred to the zoo on July 28 from Chengdu in southwestern China and, apparently not adjusting well to Lanzhou's drier climate, had refused to eat for several days, Zhou said.

The panda also had not grown comfortable with the zookeeper, surnamed Zhang, during his weeklong stay at the zoo.

Last October, a panda cub bit off part of the thumb of an American visitor who was feeding the animal at a reserve in southwestern China. A month earlier, a drunken Chinese tourist bit a panda at the Beijing Zoo after the animal attacked him when he jumped into the enclosure and tried to hug it.