K-Pop band Blackpink has sparked outrage in China after videos were circulated showing how band members were handling a giant panda cub in a South Korean zoo.
Blackpink stars were filmed this month cuddling three-month-old cub Fu Bao at a South Korean zoo.
Chinese wildlife groups say there are strict rules and regulations around the treatment of pandas, which are classed as a vulnerable species by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Only trained professionals are allowed to handle them, they say.
Chinese newspapers say the girls wore too much make-up and touched the panda’s mother without wearing masks and gloves.
The clip appears innocent enough, but the scenes have provoked fury in China, where the treatment of pandas overseas can be a sensitive issue.
Blackpink touching the pandas with bare hand and with no masks on. pic.twitter.com/N6mOygStLs
— Blackpink And The Pandas (@BlackpinkPandas) November 6, 2020
As anger grew, the band’s label was forced to take down the video.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, Fu Bao was born at the Everland Resort theme park, about 20 miles south of Seoul, to pandas sent to the country in 2016 from China’s Sichuan province.
For years, China has sent giant pandas abroad as a sign of friendship and cooperation between Beijing and other countries, part of a campaign known as “panda diplomacy,” fostering ties between governments while also offering foreigners a chance to see the rare animals in person.