Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Monday, 18 July 2005 12:29 UK

Chinese wild panda in chase drama

Panda in tree

Rescuers of a wild giant panda which wandered into a Chinese city were led on a day-long chase before capturing the animal.

The panda was first seen and pursued by residents in Dujiangyuan, in south-western Sichuan province, who thought it was a burglar.

It escaped by scrambling over roofs, and was later seen swimming a river before climbing up a tree.

It was brought down by firemen using a tranquiliser dart and a rope.

It was then taken to the province's Wolong giant panda research centre.

"The panda was amazingly agile and totally different from those at the zoos," a witness was quoted as saying by state news agency Xinhua.

The giant panda is one of the world's most endangered species, with fewer than 1,600 living in the wild in western China.

Experts quoted by Xinhua said the panda in this case was a four- to five-year-old female weighing about 60kg (130 pounds) which could have been looking for a mate or had been driven from its home by its mother.

Li Desen, a zoologist at the Wolong centre, said the wandering panda was suffering from liver and kidney disease, and had hurt its paws during the chase.

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