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Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 16:42 UK

New home planned for quake pandas

Panda at Wolong reserve
Officials want to spend $300m on a new panda reserve.

Chinese officials have drawn up $300m (150m) plans to rebuild a major panda reserve, which was badly damaged by the Sichuan province earthquake in May.

The quake flattened many of the caves used for shelter by the 150 or so pandas at the Wolong reserve.

Officials want to build a new research centre and a panda hospital, as well as repair damaged habitat.

Five staff and one panda were killed at the breeding centre during the tremors, and its research facility was wrecked.

National symbol

The quake also destroyed vast areas of vegetation, including the bamboo forest which the animals rely on for food.

Conservation officials want to rebuild the Wolong reserve in a completely different location and say the project will take seven years.

The new plans include a breeding laboratory and a disease control centre for the animals, which would be constructed in a different part of Sichuan.

BBC East Asia specialist Steve Jackson says pandas are widely loved in China and are seen as a national symbol, to be protected whatever the cost.


SEE ALSO
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