The China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda released a statement on Saturday declaring rumors surrounding the beating of pandas by keepers baseless, after the topic trended on Chinese social media platforms.
The center said that Zhang Xin, who was subject to such allegations because he previously had mistreated a panda named Hua Ni in 2014, was found not to have committed any such offense.
Zhang began to work for the Ya'an base of the center as a giant panda keeper in 2006. In 2014, an anonymous netizen released a surveillance video of a giant panda being beaten by Zhang in the center's Ya'an Bifengxia base.
In the video, the panda cub Hua Ni tried to get close to Zhang, who was not wearing a uniform, and he then slapped the panda's ears and nose.
An official name list released on May 23 showed he passed the 2022 professional and technical qualification assessment and received the title of engineer.
The center said that in 2014, Zhang had been punished for not wearing a uniform and not following the guidelines for animal care. Zhang was suspended from work and then transferred from a breeding post to a feed production post, which was made public immediately, the center said.
The center added that he was later reinstated to his old job after showing remorse for his behavior and also because of his familiarity with the management of giant panda breeding.
From August 2016 to February 2017, Zhang worked as a researcher at Shanghai Wild Animal Park and was not directly involved in caring for panda Hua Sheng, who died in 2016. The center also cleared Zhang of accusations that he had smoked at the zoo.