Chinese woman detained for trying to sell panda fur

A woman from south China has been arrested for trying to sell the pelt of an adult panda, a police officer and state media said Wednesday.

Sun Shiqun, 60, was arrested on Feb. 8 while bringing the panda pelt from her hometown of Ya'an in Sichuan to meet a buyer in the nearby city of Chongqing, said a police officer with the public security division of the Chongqing Forestry Bureau.

The officer, who would only give his surname Liu, said tests on the skin confirmed it was from a giant panda. He said he couldn't release additional details as the case was still under investigation.

A photo on the Bureau's Web site shows two police officers holding up the one-meter-long (3.3-foot-long) pelt, which appears to be a complete panda carcass with the organs, blood and bones removed. In another picture, Sun is shown in handcuffs standing by the panda with her eyes downcast.

According to the Beijing News, Sun told investigators she paid 40,000 yuan (US$5,000; euro4,000) for the skin and planned to sell it for 300,000 yuan (US$39,000; euro30,000).

The report said the animal had been killed but did not give details.

Sun had been investigated before for trying to pass off the pelt of a red panda, a smaller animal, as a giant panda. Both are endangered species. It did not say if she was punished for the earlier offense, reports AP.

A search of her home also uncovered a pelt that appeared to be a giant panda but was found to be black and white dog fur sewn together to resemble a panda pelt, the paper said.

The panda is one of the world's rarest animals, with about 1,590 living in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the southwestern province of Shaanxi.

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