Staff at a zoo in southwest China are in mourning after a sleep-deprived panda dropped her two-day-old baby and crushed it to death, local media reported on Friday.
'It was very sudden, but also unavoidable,' Guo Wei, panda department chief at Chongqing city zoo in the southwestern region of Chongqing, told the Chongqing Business News daily.
Ya Ya, a seven-year-old panda and new mother of twins, 'appeared tired' when nursing the younger cub in a patch of grass, the paper said.
Her head sagged, her paws separated and her baby fell to the ground next to her. The panda then rolled on to her side and crushed her baby beneath her.
The tragedy occurred because she hadn't slept or eaten properly since giving birth, Guo said, adding that Ya Ya lacked motherhood experience.
According to Guo, the zoo had tried on several occasions to separate the cub from its mother for their safety, but Ya Ya 'was very cautious' and would 'roar and bare her teeth' at zoo-keepers.
The elder of the twins was in good health and being cared for, zoo officials said.
But Ya Ya had proved inconsolable, wailing and looking for her baby after its body was taken away from her.
'Pandas who lose their young tend to be depressed for a month or so,' Guo said, adding that the zoo would assign people to care for her and provide special food to improve her mood. "