Research Highlights: Reports of Giant Panda Attacking Humans

panda bear eating bamboo leaves in zoo
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Reports of Giant Panda Attacking Humans

  • Giant pandas bred in city zoos rarely attack humans.
  • They belong to the Carnivora order and are usually found in the Chinese provinces which include Gansu and Sichuan.
  • They are considered a national treasure in China.
  • The giant panda is regarded as having a gentle temperament and is protected under the First-Grade State Protection Act by the Chinese Government.
  • There had been three cases of giant panda attacks on humans at the Panda House at Beijing Zoo.
  • The reports serve as a warning to people that giant pandas can have dangerous behavior.
  • On September 19, 2006, an intoxicated male tourist was attacked when he jumped into the giant panda enclosure and tried to pet it.
  • The victim’s right calf was bitten severely and was diagnosed as an open injury with a skin defect.
  • The bite area was entirely irregular with many small wounds.
  • On January 7, 2009, another male tourist was attacked by a giant panda when he fell into the enclosure.
  • The victim’s left calf was bitten severely and was diagnosed as an open composited injury with a skin defect.
  • On June 7, 2009, a third male tourist was attacked by a giant panda when he fell into the enclosure.
  • The third victim’s left foot and right elbow joint were bitten.
  • All victims received a free latissimus dorsi muscle flap to cover their skin defects.
  • The latissimus dorsi flap is one of the most commonly used flaps in reconstructive surgery.[2]
  • Dogs, bears, pigs, sharks, wolves, and monkeys are among the other animals that rarely attack humans.
  • However, the giant panda attack has not been previously reported.
  • Researchers speculated that giant pandas may attack due to being infuriated and frightened.
  • In one of the cases, the giant panda did not let go of the victim’s leg even though the victim tried numerous approaches to get the panda to release his leg.
  • When the zookeeper arrived for help, the victim was able to escape from the panda’s bite.
  • Carnivora are characterized as having powerful jaws and teeth adapted for tearing flesh.
  • However, giant pandas mostly eat bamboo compared with the other species of Carnivora.
  • A study has shown that the change in giant pandas’ food choices during their evolutionary process has something to do with dopamine metabolic involvement.
  • Giant panda attacks are rare in clinical work and treatment was almost the same as other animal attacks.

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Zhang, P., Wang, T., Xiong, J., Xue, F., Xu, H., Chen, J., Zhang, D., Fu, Z., & Jiang, B. (2014). Three cases giant panda attack on human at Beijing Zoo. International journal of clinical and experimental medicine, 7 (11), 4515–4518.