Panda Drowns in Rain Drenched SW China
   2011-07-06 20:08:23    Xinhua      Web Editor: Yu

Local villagers carry the body of a wild giant panda which drowned amid heavy rain in the township of Yingxiu in southwest China's Sichuan province on July 5, 2011.[Photo: Chinanews.com]

A wild giant panda drowned amid heavy rain in Sichuan Province, according to local forestry authorities.

The male giant panda, aged about 10, probably drowned after it was swept into a section of the Minjiang River by rain-triggered floods and mudslides in the township of Yingxiu in Sichuan, said a spokesman with the provincial forestry department Wednesday.

An autopsy conducted by the Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center found a considerable amount of water in the lungs of the dead panda, said the spokesman, adding the possibility that humans killed the animal had been ruled out.

The body of the giant panda was found in the Zipingpu Reservoir, which the Minjiang River flows into, by a local villager on Tuesday morning, he said.

The provincial forestry authorities have urged wildlife preservation organizations to enhance their efforts to protect giant pandas and other wild animals in the areas affected by the recent downpours.

Statistics from the State Forestry Administration show that about 1,600 pandas live in the wild while about 300 are held in captivity at zoos worldwide.

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