Father saves daughter from zoo bear attack

Warning to little girls everywhere–giant teddy bears may very well try to eat you.

Warning to parents everywhere–watch your kids when around dangerous wild animals.

A Dutch family was visiting a private zoo in Luenebach, Germany, when their three-year-old daughter became enchanted by an Asian black bear. While her parents’ backs were turned she climbed the fence, which was only a meter (three feet) tall, and fell inside the bear’s enclosure. The bear then struck the kid. Daddy leaped in, got his own share of bear battering, and managed to save his daughter. Both were taken to the hospital but their injuries are not life-threatening.

This isn’t the first time the bear has acted like, well, a bear. Three years ago he attacked and injured a zookeeper.

Police are now investigating why it was so easy for a small child to get into the bear’s enclosure and why the parents didn’t notice her doing it.

As a parent I can testify to how quickly a small child can slip out of sight and get into mischief, but even when my son was three he knew not to climb fences and approach strange animals. Why? Because I told him. Of course that’s no guarantee, but he hasn’t done it in the first five years of his life, greatly increasing the chances that he will see the next five. Parents, please, teach your kids about animal safety. Cute does not mean safe. Just ask the Chinese guy who suffered a panda attack.

Image courtesy of Guérin Nicolas via Wikimedia Commons.

Seven Endangered Species You Can Still See in the Wild

There is no doubt that we are fascinated with wildlife. We love to watch diverse and interesting animals, preferably in their natural habitats, and we’re often willing to travel to remote places, sometimes at great expense, to see them. If you enjoy the kind of travel that allows for these kinds of animal encounters, they you’ll want to check out BootsnAll’s list of the Seven Endangered Species You Can Find Outside a Zoo.

The article not only lists the creatures, it also gives us the best locations to go and see them for ourselves, including some brief insights into what to expect out of the journey. For instance, if you want to see polar bears in the wild, you can expect a long flight, or 40-hour train ride, to Churchill, Canada, on the famed Hudson Bay, where every October and November, the bears gather, waiting for the bay to freeze so they can continue on northward. The other creatures, and locations that can be found, include: sea turtles in Barbados, tigers in India, rhinos in Tanzania, elephants in South Africa, pandas in China, and gray whales in Mexico.

As the article points out, in the era of ecotourism, these trips to see these rare animals can be a force for good. Conservation efforts can receive funding from our visits and an increased awareness about the plight of the animals helps to prevent poaching and protect natural habitats as well. Just be sure to travel with a reputable guide service and make sure you pack out everything you pack in.

So did they leave anything off the list? I was a bit surprised to not see the mountain gorillas that we wrote about last week, on there. They’d certainly make my top list. What’s on yours?

Note to readers – a Panda is not always a cute and cuddly animal

Panda news pops up all the time here on Gadling, but I don’t recall us ever warning you about the dangers of the oh-so-cute looking creatures.

28 year old Zhang Jiao can tell you all about it. When trying to recover a childrens toy dropped into the panda pen at Beijing Zoo, Mr. Jiao was attacked by Gu Gu.

The article then confirms just how much the Chinese love their panda, as Mr. Jiao told reporters that he did not fight back when the panda was chewing up his leg, because “the panda is a national treasure and I love and respect him”.

Like most people, Zhang assumed pandas were cute and cuddly creatures that sit under a tree all day chewing on bamboo. Leg is not usually on their menu.

This is the third time Gu Gu went on the attack. Last year, a 15 year old boy was attacked when he climbed into the panda pen, and a year earlier, a drunk tourist thought it would be cool to jump into the pen and hug the animal. When the panda bit him, he tried biting back.

Mr. Jiao may face charges for entering the panda pen, but the three accidents have finally prompted zoo officials to consider some new measures to keep tourists away from Gu Gu.

Naturally, Pandas in the wild, or those in a reserve can be a little cuter, and for $100 you may even be able to get up close and personal with one. Just be sure to leave them alone when you encounter one at the zoo (remember, the same advise also applies to tigers).

(Via: CNN.com)

Send More Crap Back Home with Panda Poop Souvenirs

A while back, Gadling covered a story about postcards in China made from recycled panda poop. The feces were gathered, presumably cleaned, and compressed into flat sheets of “paper” to be sold to tourists. The Chinese have stepped it up a bit and begun making souvenirs out of the cuddly bear’s dung. Fortunately, the pandas are herbivores, which keeps the little statues odor-free. Gosh, they’re awfully cute, I guess, but it’s still something that made its way through an animal’s digestive tract, and there’s something very wrong about that. Even so, it’s the perfect gift to give to someone who either has an unhealthy obsession with panda bears, or you don’t like very much.

One animals poop is another person’s Chinese keepsake. [via]

Panda Spotting Becomes Easier

It just got a little bit easier to see Giant Pandas–there are more of them. The Chinese government reports that 2006 has been a banner year for panda cubs. According to China Daily, the government’s official English language newspaper, artificial insemination done at panda breeding centers around China has produced a record 27 healthy cubs, out of 30 born live. Scientists first started breeding them in 1960.

Only 1,590 are thought to live in the wild, while another 180 live in zoos or breeding centers worldwide.

We traveled to the Chengdu’s breeding facility last year, which is just outside the city of Chengdu, right in the center of China. It’s a beautiful park, and well worth the visit. If you choose to travel to see the pandas, be sure to also read up on the much larger Wolong Nature Preserve, further north of Chengdu. And don’t forget to sample the wonderful food of the Sichuan region!