Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Saturday, 22 November 2008

Panda attacks man in Chinese zoo

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A man has been attacked by a panda at a park in southern China, after he climbed into its enclosure hoping to cuddle the creature.

The 20-year-old student had ignored warning signs and scaled a two-metre (6.5ft) barrier to get into the pen.

State media say the panda bit him on his arms and legs, and he had to be rescued by the animal's keepers.

Speaking from his hospital bed, the injured man said the panda had looked so cute he had just wanted to hug it.

The incident happened on Friday at Qixing Park in Guilin, a popular tourist attraction in the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which houses a small zoo and panda exhibit.

A worker at the park, quoted by the official Xinhua news agency, said there are clear signs warning visitors not to go beyond the fences for their own safety, "but the young man ignored them".

The panda, Yang Yang, was apparently scared by the intruder and bit the man's arms and legs, he said.

Two foreign visitors who saw the incident alerted keepers who rushed to the student's rescue and calmed the panda.

The man - named only as Liu - was taken to hospital. He underwent an operation and doctors said he would stay in hospital for a few days, although his life was not in danger.

Liu, who is studying at a university in Guilin, said he had been visiting the park with fellow students.

"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him," he told Xinhua from his hospital bed.

"I didn't expect he would attack... I don't remember how many bites I got."

Yang Yang - whose name means sun - is seven years old and weighs 80kg (176lb). Keepers said he had recovered from the incident and was eating and playing as normal.

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