Man apprehended for accidentally gassing giant panda to death at China zoo

A giant panda named Quan Quan died on July 22 at the Jinan Zoo in China after inhaling carbon monoxide and chlorine, fumes that were used to disinfect a nearby former air raid shelter, reports Los Angeles Times. Deputy Communist Party Secretary of the Jinan Zoo, Liu Jungang, said the gases came through the ventilation pipes shared by the zoo and the shelter.

The AFP via MSN News reports that a man identified only by his surname Yang was detained in connection with the Quan Quan’s death. Yang allegedly hired workers to disinfect the shelter, according to the Xinhua news agency.

According to Los Angeles Times, experts said the death of Quan Quan, a member of an endangered species who was dubbed "heroic mother" for giving birth to seven cubs, would "probably increase pressure to improve care for the animals." Kati Loeffler, International Fund for Animal Welfare veterinary advisor, told Los Angeles Times that malnutrition, stress and other factors have caused pandas to die in Chinese zoos and breeding centers.

Loeffler said, "These pandas are being bred for a life in captivity. Why are they being bred? Just so they can circulate through zoos and live next to old air raid shelters?" Quan Quan, 21 years old but 70 in panda years, used to live at the world’s biggest panda breeding center in Sichuan before she was lent to the Jinan Zoo.

The giant panda is the "rarest member of the bear family and among the world's most threatened animals," according to the World Wildlife Fund, whose logo features a giant panda. Less than 2,500 mature giant pandas are out in the wild.

For more on this story, log on to Los Angeles Times and MSN News.

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