A panda living at China's Hongshan Zoo has been diagnosed as suffering from stress after the area outside his cage was taken over by a group of square dancing grannies. Elderly ladies wanting to keep fit and taking up square dancing in any public space have become a mass phenomena in China, with many conflicts between the dancers and local residents who complain that sometimes the practice sessions go on into the early hours of the morning.
For their part the pensioners say during the day it is always too busy, and always too hot as well. They prefer instead to dance in the evening and sleep during the day.
But that schedule has not gone down well with the panda at the zoo in the city of Nanjing in eastern China's Jiangsu Province.
The giant panda's keeper Guang Tien, 43, said: "As soon as the music starts and the women begin dancing, Chaoyang begins pacing back and forth and is clearly nervous and distressed.
"Just like people, there are some animals that can handle noise, and other animals that get stressed out and anxious. Pandas are one of the animals that really can't handle noise, and after trying to work out why he seems so anxious and of his food lately, we discovered that the cause was the dancers."
Zoo director Shen Zhijun said that they had called in experts from the Sichuan-based Ya'an Giant Panda Reserve Center, who discovered that the panda's heartbeat and breathing increased noticeably when Chaoyang heard the women arrived.
He said: "The women also sing very loudly and very badly. Even I can hear them from a long distance away when I am inside with the windows closed. I've tried to persuade them to lower their voices but they refused."
Shen said that not just the pandas but also other animals, noticeably the hornbills and giraffes, are also suffering ever since the singing and dancing square dancers have taken up position.
He added: "Visitors are complaining, because when the dancers start up the animals go back inside their cages and refused to come out."