The 8.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated China's Sichuan Province on Monday, May 12, struck in the heart of the Wolong Nature Reserve, its epicenter situated less than 10 miles from the Giant Panda Protection and Research Center, home to some 86 pandas. The Center, like most of the surrounding towns and villages was destroyed. Although all directors, veterinarians and staff members escaped serious injury, five people connected with the Nature Reserve were killed. In addition, two pandas were injured, while six escaped. So far, four of the escaped pandas, unable to find food, have returned to the Center.
There are about 1,590 giant pandas living in the wild in China, the majority of which inhabit the hard-hit Wolong Nature Reserve. Their fate is still unknown at this time.
The death toll from this disaster now exceeds 60,o0o. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone, including all of our wild brothers and sisters, affected by this horrible tragedy.