CHENGDU, China, Sept. 20 (UPI) — Authorities say 60 giant pandas removed from China’s Sichuan Province after a 2008 earthquake should be back in a regional nature preserve by 2012.
Local authorities said three of the 63 pandas that resided at the Wolong National Nature Reserve prior to the 8.0-magnitude earthquake have since died or gone missing, one dying in the quake and another dying of an unspecified illness, China’s official state-run Xinhua news agency said Saturday.
Luo Zengbin, deputy head of Sichuan Provincial Forestry Department, said the third panda disappeared during the 2008 quake.
Luo added the natural disaster killed 12 panda protection workers in the province, while damaging 141,816 acres of the pandas’ habitat.
The deadly earthquake prompted authorities to relocate the surviving animals to various locations in China.
The nature reserve itself is undergoing a $55.5 million reconstruction effort that should be completed in 2011, Xinhua reported.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International