Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the former French President, has revealed that he was once attacked by a panda after he dared himself to enter the animal’s cage.
The incident occurred at the Vincennes Zoo in Paris, and he decided to enter the cage in order to test his “presidential courage.” He was at the establishment because his daughter was there on work experience, and the pandas had been a gift to his predecessor, Georges Pompidou, from China.
d’Estaing, who was in office between 1974 – 1981, was speaking in Blois at an event.
d’Estaing stated, “They came to extract me from its claws but imagine what would have been said had the animal knocked me to the ground.” It is thought that the panda leaped on him and staff then had to free him from the animal’s claws.
Iain Valentine, director of giant pandas at the zoo, told the BBC news that he’d had a lucky escape, stating, “Although they are vegetarian bears, obviously at the end of the day pandas are still very powerful and muscular bears with teeth and claws to match.”
He then added, “Although not particularly aggressive by nature, pandas do have this potential and are very territorial animals. You can go in with young animals under the age of two years; however, after this age we really would not recommend it and certainly our keepers are never in the same area as our giant pandas.”
In March, the National Zoo artificially inseminated a giant panda after he mate was described as a “clueless breeder with flawed technique.”
David Wildt, who was leading the process, remarked, “We are hopeful that our breeding efforts will be successful this year, and we’re encouraged by all the behaviors and hormonal data we’ve seen so far. We have an extremely small window of opportunity to perform the procedures, which is why we monitor behavior and hormones so closely.”
How would you get a panda off your back?