Tourists Throw Rocks at Giant Panda to 'Wake Animal Up'

Tourists at China's Beijing Zoo were filmed throwing rocks at a giant panda in his enclosure, with the footage posted to the Chinese social media site Weibo.

In the video, at least one person is seen throwing the rocks towards a giant panda named Meng Da, who is seven years old. Giant pandas are considered national treasures in China.

According to the South China Morning Post, which cited local newspaper The Beijing News, the original video drew over 100 million views. The poster said the rock-throwers were trying to "wake the panda up."

The state-owned China Daily reported that Beijing Zoo addressed the incident on its Weibo profile, saying Meng Da is healthy, eating well and playing.

"We have constant inspectors and breeders to examine the pandas twice every day in the zoo and we sent patrols and breeders to check the situation of 'Meng Da' immediately to make sure that everything was good with the panda," the zoo said.

Beijing Zoo is planning to upgrade the giant panda facilities, according to China Daily, and will strengthen is patrols of the area. Officials appealed to visitors to be on good behavior at the zoo and not feed or throw things at the animals.

China's Global Times, also state-owned, reported that the tourists responsible for the rock-throwing, who were with a tour group from X'ian, are now banned from Beijing Zoo. The tour company is also now on a probation period with the zoo.

Beijing Zoo did not respond immediately to Newsweek's request for comment.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the number of giant pandas in the world.

Giant Panda Statista
Number of giant pandas. Statista

The campaign group Pandas International says there are fewer than 2,200 giant pandas left in the world, with just 1,864 of those in the wild. Their traditional habitat is southwestern China.

They can grow to be between 165 to 353 lbs as adults and up to five feet in length. Giant pandas eat between 25 and 50 lbs of bamboo every single day and have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years in the wild and 25 to 35 years in captivity.

"Increasing human population in the giant panda's native region has resulted in a dramatic degradation of habitat and food supply. The biodiversity of the region is at significant risk," says Pandas International.

"This magnificent animal, a survivor of the ice age and centuries beyond, is now in grave danger of extinction. The survival of each living panda becomes crucial to the survival of the species; each animal, those in captivity and in the wild, must be attended to on a daily basis if they are sick or injured.

"Without proper medical equipment and medicine, giant pandas will die and each death brings us one step closer to a world without these unique creatures; one step closer to the destruction of yet another species and its ecosystem.

"Sustaining the giant panda has reached a critical point. We must work to save the giant panda in order to allow the world the continuing benefit of one of its most extraordinary creatures."

giant panda China Beijing Zoo tourist rocks
A giant panda rests at the Beijing Zoo on June 5, 2012 in Beijing, China. Tourists were filmed throwing rocks at a giant panda in Beijing Zoo. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

This article was updated to include an infographic.