Giant Panda Is Killed, Sold for Body Parts in China

Giant Panda
Giant panda Weiwei rests in its enclosure during snowfall at a zoo in Wuhan, Hubei province February 1, 2015. Weiwei was not harmed, but a fellow giant panda was killed in May. China Daily/Reuters

Authorities in China arrested 10 people on suspicions they participated in the killing of a giant panda and distribution of its body parts. The panda was living in the wild at the time of her death, the Associated Press reported.

The black market for giant panda body parts is lucrative in China. All parts of the panda, even bones, go up for sale. A portion of the panda's meat and its four paws went for $800.

This particular panda was shot when two men identified only by their last name, Wang, were hunting for an animal that had slain some of their sheep. The man who shot the panda claimed not to realize, initially, what he had hit. After the panda was injured, she climbed into a tree to hide. The man then shot her again, killing her.

Giant pandas are extremely rare: With less than 2,000 left in China, they are an endangered species. Killing a panda is a serious crime with a minimum 10-year prison sentence in China. To the Chinese, the panda is considered more than an animal; it is a national treasure.

Pandas have been used by Chinese leaders to bolster diplomatic relations. Technically, China owns all of the giant pandas in the world. The country lease them to other nations at a rate of about $1 million per pair for 10 years.