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The footage, shared widely on social media, appears to show keepers grappling with the creatures as they caper around an enclosure at what reports said was the giant panda breeding facility in Chengdu, western China.
“I felt so angry to watch it! This is abuse!” said one commenter, June Xiaoxingxing, on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.
The cubs appear to make repeated attempts to sneak out of the enclosure, with staff manhandling them to keep them inside.
“It’s gone too far!!! Don’t be a breeder if you don’t have patience!” said another post by Qihaofangxin Shangxiong.
In an interview with Chinese language publication The Paper, the head of the Chengdu research facility described the staff actions as inappropriate and said they should treat the pandas “gently”.
He said however that the staff’s hands and feet had been injured by the animals — something not shown on the video.
The black and white bear, which symbolises wildlife protection efforts worldwide, was previously classified as endangered but its status was improved in the latest IUCN assessment.
It is estimated that fewer than 2,000 giant pandas remain in the wild, in three provinces in south-central China.
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