The story

As people across China's Sichuan province continue to rebuild their lives one year after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake leveled some towns and cities, the region's famed giant pandas are still struggling due to the devastation wreaked by the deadly temblor.

The quake triggered mountain landslides and caused damage across large areas of the forests at the Wolong Giant Panda Protection Studies Center, also known as "the Home of Pandas." A majority of the reserve's panda living facilities and its studies facilities were damaged. "The pandas were traumatized by the quake. Many of them ran up to tree tops and wouldn't come down. These are all signs of stress," said Wang Pengyan, Wolong's chief engineer. Just 13 panda cubs were born in the past year, down from 17 in 2007 and a record of 30 in 2006. "Our staff have taken many measures. We spent a lot of time to communicate and play with them. In this way, they recovered slowly. We talked to them in kind voices, usually praising them how good and nice they are," Wang said. "The quake could be one of the reasons why there were less newborn pandas this year. This is only our assumption so far."

Most of the animals survived the quake at the reserve, located just eight kilometers from the quake epicenter, though one - a female named Mao Mao - was found dead, two were injured and one is still missing today. "Our panda homes have been damaged by the earthquake, so we had to keep our pandas in limited space. This creates a lot of pressure both on our staff and on the pandas," said Wang Pengyan, Wolong's director. "Limited living-space for the pandas has been the biggest challenge for the reserve so far." Read full article »

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