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China: Around The Nation

Plight of ‘world’s most miserable giant panda’ sparks online uproar

Zoo apologises after photos are posted online showing iconic animal scavenging through piles of litter dumped by tourists into its enclosure

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 October, 2016, 6:38pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 October, 2016, 8:04pm

A giant panda dubbed “the most miserable in the world” by mainland internet users is living in a pen strewn with litter dumped by tourists at a government-run zoo in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China National Radio reports.

Zookeepers appear to have turned a blind eye to its plight, the state radio station added.

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The iconic animal, when released from its cage into its open air enclosure, spends most of its day eating assorted garbage, including balloons, empty soft drink bottles, rotten fruit and plastic bags.

Although the animal does not appear distressed, photos of the heavily littered pen posted on Weibo last week prompted a public outcry, with many internet users worried that the panda might fall ill after eating so much “junk food” beyond its daily ration of bamboo leaves.

“The Giant panda is our national treasure, but the tourists who dump their rubbish in its enclosure do not deserve to see it, nor does the zoo deserve to own it,” the Weibo user continued.

No staff at the zoo attempted to clean up the mess or stop the animal from eating the rubbish, the Weibo user added.

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The zoo apologised for the management problem and said it had cleaned up the area by the end of last week.

They also placed the panda under medical observation but so far no ill effects or irregular symptoms had been noticed, the zoo said.

According to scientists studying the species in the wild, the giant panda’s natural diet ranges from bamboo roots to insects and even small rodents.