Panda Mauls Tourist At Beijing Zoo

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BEIJING — A panda at the Beijing zoo bit his third tourist in two years _ and this time, his jaws had to be forced open to free the man, who had jumped in to retrieve his son's toy.

Gu Gu, a 240-pound (110-kilogram) panda, mauled the man's legs and refused to let go until zookeepers pried his jaws open with tools, said a zoo spokeswoman surnamed Gong. She would not give her full name, as is common among Chinese officials.

Gu Gu first made news in 2007 when he bit a drunken tourist who jumped into his pen and tried to hug him. The tourist retaliated by biting the panda in the back.

In October, Gu Gu viciously bit a teenager who climbed into his exercise area out of curiosity.

The Beijing News said the latest victim, Zhang Jiao of central Anhui province, suffered damage to major ligaments and is recovering from surgery.

The newspaper quoted tourists as saying Zhang appeared to first look around to see if pandas were nearby before jumping in to get his 5-year-old son's toy.

Pandas, a national symbol of China and often seen as being cute and cuddly, can be violent when provoked or startled. Zoo officials have considered unspecified measures to prevent further incidents.

Police were investigating, and it was not clear yet if Zhang would face criminal charges, Gong said.