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Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 15:10 UK

Chinese quake panda victim buried

Panda funeral in China
Three minutes of silence were held at the site

The world famous Wolong panda centre in south-western China has held a funeral service for nine-year-old panda Mao Mao who was killed in the recent quake.

It had been thought all of the 64 pandas at the centre survived despite the heavy damage it suffered.

But Mao Mao, who was a mother to five of the pandas at the centre, was crushed by the wall of her enclosure.

Mao Mao's keeper, He Changgui, was in tears as he placed two apples and a piece of bread at the grave.

One other panda, Xiao Xiao, remains unaccounted for after the 12 May earthquake, which left almost 87,000 people dead or missing.

Forty-seven continue to live at Wolong, while the others have been transferred to a breeding centre in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, or to Beijing Zoo as part of the celebrations for the Olympic Games this summer.

Silence

Mao Mao's remains were transferred in a wooden crate to an area outside the breeding centre.

Zhang Hemin, the director, placed some dirt in the grave and three minutes of silence were held.

The Associated Press news agency quoted Mao Mao's keeper as saying: "It's like you could say something and she would understand. If you were happy, she was happy too."

Mr He added: "I will go back to see her everyday."

Wolong was close to the epicentre of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake and lost five staff members.

China has about 1,600 pandas still living in the wild and another 180 that have been bred in captivity.



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