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Panda attacks caretaker at Belgian zoo

© Belga

A giant panda at a Belgian zoo unexpectedly attacked one of its caretakers over the weekend, biting the attendant in the arm and leg and seriously injuring them.

The panda, Tian Bao, resides at a privately owned zoo and botanical garden called Pairi Daiza, located in Brugelette in the province of Hainaut.

In a corridor that only caretakers have access to, a staff member was surprised to come face to face with the panda, who attacked them. Tian Bao was quickly secured by the victim’s colleagues after the attack, and the seriously injured caretaker was taken to the hospital.

“What is certain is that the panda should never have been allowed in that room,” Mathieu Goedefroy of the zoo told De Standaard.

What went wrong is still being investigated.

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Giant pandas are generally solitary animals who do not tolerate intrusion into their territory, according to the zoo’s spokesperson. Safety protocols at Pairi Daiza forbid any direct contact between humans and giant pandas as soon as the pandas are two years old or weigh 70 kilograms.

Tian Bao is four years old.

This is the first time any such incident has occurred at the zoo. No visitors witnessed the attack, because it was in a staff-only corridor.

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times