South Korea popular girl band says they touched pandas with disinfected hands after drawing ire in China

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/7 20:58:09

Photo: Weibo

 The company where South Korean girl band Black Pink works explained on Saturday that the members were given instructions by panda handlers and had been disinfected before touching pandas after the band faced backlash on Chinese social media for touching giant pandas in a variety show.

The company’s statement said that all members of Black Pink had been disinfected before touching giant pandas and were wearing gloves as well as protective suits. But panda experts suggested that non-professional people directly touching pandas might cause misunderstandings among the public, so it decided not to broadcast the program.

A video clip that is a part of the program’s trailer went viral on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo since Thursday showing the girls in the South Korean show touching the panda when they visited the giant panda Huani, who arrived in the country from China in 2016, and her three-month-old baby Fubao.  

These members all wore makeup and some of them keep pet dogs at home, which are considered dangerous to giant pandas.

The news soon spread across social media and raised concerns from the Chinese wildlife protection organizations. 

The China Wildlife Conservation Association sent a letter to the zoo in South Korea where the giant pandas live on Thursday, demanding it immediately stop such activity and stop broadcasting related videos as the members’ actions have broken regulations on close contact with pandas, The Beijing News reported.

Many Chinese netizens also asked the zoo to stop allowing the production team of variety shows to enter the living area of pandas.

“We sent our treasures to your country. Please treat them more carefully,” one netizen commented on Sina Weibo, echoing most voices.

After the statement was published, a hashtag “why we cannot touch pandas with bare hands” has gone viral on Sina Weibo on Saturday, explaining to the public that the viruses on hands, chemical components of makeup and canine distemper brought by owners of pet dogs are dangerous to giant pandas, especially young baby pandas.

In 2015, five giant pandas died in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province because of canine distemper.

The Chinese authority banned close contact with giant pandas for any commercial activity in October 2018.

The ban said any breeding unit of pandas must not organize activities such as feeding, photographing and other close contact for commercial reasons with pandas, nor shall they engage in the practice of commercial events with giant pandas under the name of volunteers, Xinhua reported.

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