A Chinese woman who generated backlash online for petting a giant panda cub at a wildlife reserve in China has made a public apology on social media.
The woman, identified only as Han, uploaded some images of herself stroking the young bear at the Shenshuping base of the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan province last week.
In the pictures posted on Weibo, the university student’s hand is seen touching the cub.
“We met halfway and I finally petted a panda baby secretly!” she wrote in the caption.
The photos angered netizens as visitors are warned against feeding or touching the animals by the wildlife reserve.
According to the South China Morning Post, the park is littered with signs that remind visitors to not touch the pandas.
“Without sterilization, bacteria from tourists can infect the panda and cause sickness. At the same time, pandas are bears … they should not come into close contact with humans,” wrote one commenter.
“She did not behave in a civilized way, how can she just randomly pet our national treasure?” another lamented.
Han has since deleted the images on her account, but screenshots of the post have been reuploaded elsewhere online.
“My careless behavior out of love of pandas caused this misunderstanding,” Han wrote on Weibo on Sunday.
“I’ve always been an animal lover and have two dogs … In the future, I will be cautious and contribute to animal protection efforts.”