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 News from Wolong, Thursday July 17

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Posts : 188
Join date : 2008-06-04
Location : Portland Oregon, USA

PostSubject: News from Wolong, Thursday July 17   Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:55 pm

The Earthquake's Toll

• Just over 69,000 dead
• Approximately 375,000 injured
• About 20,000 missing
• Millions homeless


The Human Toll

The exact toll on the residents living in the earthquake area of Sichuan Province is incalculable. The effects of losing so much will not be known for years to come.

One major problem for many, including the staff at Wolong, was not being able to confirm that their family members were safe. As an example, Dr. Li was in Chengdu at a conference, his young daughter was in Dujiangyan where she attends school (this is the town were so many schools collapsed) and his wife was in Wolong Town where she works for the Wolong administration. Each did not know if the other was safe. No doubt the situation was the same for many families and made hours seem like days as each waited for word of the other’s safety.

While there is definitely a profound sadness of the people in the area, the ones who survived seem to have thankfulness to be alive and are working to rebuild their lives. Material items have been lost, lives turned upside down and nerves rattled, but rebuilding has begun.





The Toll on Wolong Pandas

There were 63 giant pandas at the Wolong Center before the quake. One was killed while another remains missing. Eighteen panda pens were destroyed and 14 others severely damaged.

Dr. Li said the Wolong reserve faces the potential for severe secondary geological disasters. Landslides and mud-rock flows have occurred frequently and pose a serious threat to the safety of the surviving animals. June marked the start of the annual rainy season, which routinely causes the region's fast flowing streams to flood their banks. Landslides are a particular concern because the quake caused hillsides to shear away and crash into river valleys below. Many slopes are unstable and are at high risk of being washed away by storms.

Most of the pandas have been or will be moved to safer locations. New homes include the Bifengxia Giant Panda Base about 75 miles outside Sichuan's provincial capital of Chengdu, in Yaan(under the Wolong Authority) another breeding center in Chengdu itself, and facilities in the eastern province of Fujian and the southern province of Guangdong.

40 pandas were evacuated to the Ya'an base from Wolong. Workers have begun the construction of 16 temporary pens and a kindergarten for baby pandas in the Bifengxia base. Twenty pens, now under construction, will be completed in mid-October for the displaced pandas.

Eight are currently at the Beijing Zoo as part of the Olympic display.

Three two-year-old females, Si Jia, Mei Qian and Qian Qian, were sent to the Yunnan Wild Animals Park in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province.

The park has more than 10,000 animals covering 110 species, including two giant pandas brought from Sichuan last year. "Yunnan has a climate and environment similar to Sichuan. I believe they will spend the two years happily," said Xiao Yi, a panda handler.



Dong Guixin, the park's general manager, said that five three-year-old pandas were transferred to the Xiangjiang Safari Park in Guangzhou, capital of the southern Guangdong Province. It was expected they would stay in the park for three years.

Others went to the Fuzhou giant panda research center and the Panyu Zoo in Guangdong Province.
About 7 one year olds remain at Wolong and temporary enclosures have been built for them in the Wolong Town. Immediately following the earthquake, the youngest cubs were moved to Wolong Town. The town is safer as there is more open area away from the mountains and slides. In at least one case, instead of waiting for cages and trucks, a cub got to ride in the front seat of a van to safety.
After arriving in Wolong town, the cubs were scared and clung to their keepers.

Regarding breeding for this year, Director Zhang said, “They were nervous right after the quake but have recovered. The quake hit during what the Chinese delicately call the "falling in love period," a 24-to-72-hour window each spring when female pandas are fertile. More than a dozen captive pandas were artificially inseminated.”’ An unknown number of wild pandas may have gotten pregnant. There is no way of knowing what affect the earthquake will have on the pregnant females.

The Toll on Wild Pandas



It is not known how many wild pandas died. One unconfirmed report said 15 bodies had been found.
Forestry officials have said that about 80 percent of Sichuan's panda habitat suffered some degree of damage from the quake. Mud is covering much of the bamboo, so their food is a major concern. In addition, slides may be blocking their normal migratory patterns.



Assessment

Pandas International will remain in contact with the staff assessing progress and needs for the center and the pandas. Up until now the main objective was to get the pandas to a safe location. Now that that has occurred, planning and rebuilding can move forward.


Pandas International is accepting memorial donations in memory of Mao Mao for use in the rebuilding efforts. To make a tax-deductible contribution, please send checks payable to Pandas International at P.O. Box 620335 , Littleton , Colorado 80162 , or view daily updates and donate online at <http://ent.groundspring.org/EmailNow/pub.php?module=URLTracker&cmd=track&j=222503877&u=2319483>www.pandasinternational.org.

Next segment: Staff Member Gives Account of When the Earthquake Happened

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