Video of handlers abusing panda cubs in China sparks outrage

A video showing two handlers mistreating giant panda cubs in China has gone viral, prompting one of the accused animal keepers to speak out in the pair's defense.

Guo Jingpeng, who works at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, was caught on surveillance video roughly handling two young pandas with another one of the animals' keepers on July 12.

In the footage, Jingpeng and his coworker can be seen slamming the cubs into a wall in the enclosure, dragging the creatures by their scruff and tossing them head first into the ground.

After the shocking footage started to gain widespread attention, Jingpeng came forward to tell his own side of the story.

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Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
A giant panda cub lies on a log at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province November 1, 2011. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: ANIMALS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
CHENGDU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 28: A keeper carries giant panda cub Qi Yi at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on February 28, 2017 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China. A video footage of 7-month-old giant panda Qi Yi clinging to the keeper\'s leg at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding went viral online. (Photo by An Yuan/CNSPHOTO/VCG)
This photo taken on July 27, 2017 shows panda cubs Yuanman and Meilan sleeping at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu in China's southwest Sichuan province. Viral video footage of giant panda cubs being dragged and hurled around by staff at a Chinese breeding centre has sparked online outrage and accusations of cruelty towards the country's favourite animal. The footage, shared widely on social media, appears to show keepers grappling with the creatures as they caper around an enclosure at what reports said was the giant panda breeding facility in Chengdu, western China. / AFP PHOTO / STR / China OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
CHENGDU, CHINA - JUNE 06: A giant panda arrives at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on June 6, 2017 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China. Pandas called Yang Bang, Hai Bang and You Bang born in Japan return to Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. They will meet visitors after a month's quarantine. (Photo by An Yuan/CNSPHOTO/VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHENGDU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 28: Giant panda cub Qi Yi climbs at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on February 28, 2017 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China. A video footage of 7-month-old giant panda Qi Yi clinging to the keeper\'s leg at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding went viral online. (Photo by An Yuan/CNSPHOTO/VCG)
CHENGDU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 28: A keeper puts giant panda cub Qi Yi on the wooden bed at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on February 28, 2017 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China. A video footage of 7-month-old giant panda Qi Yi clinging to the keeper\'s leg at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding went viral online. (Photo by An Yuan/CNSPHOTO/VCG)
CHENGDU, CHINA - JANUARY 20: Staff carrying 23 giant panda cubs gather to pose for photos as they send wishes for the Chinese New Year at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on January 20, 2017 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHENGDU, CHINA - JANUARY 20: Staff carrying 23 giant panda cubs gather to pose for photos as they send wishes for the Chinese New Year at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on January 20, 2017 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHENGDU, CHINA - JANUARY 20: Staff take 23 giant panda cubs to send wishes for the Chinese New Year at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on January 20, 2017 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
Twin panda cubs, born on April 24 in captivity, are pictured in an incubator at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan province, China May 23, 2017. China Daily via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA.
A baby giant panda is interested in a camera set up on a tree at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
A breeder puts a giant panda cub into a crib at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, September 23, 2013. Fourteen new joiners to the 128-giant-panda-family at the base were shown to the public on Monday, according to local media. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
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He told news agency Xinhua that he was feeding milk to the panda cubs, as he does every day, when one of the animals suddenly became aggressive.

"The cub bit my hand really hard. Its teeth cut into my flesh and my hand started bleeding," Jingpeng told the outlet. "When it tried to bite me again, I pushed it away out of instinct."

Guo added that since the footage has spread online, he believed he has unfairly become a target of social media ire.

"The over 50-minute video was intentionally edited into less than two minutes of footage," he said.

"The online community claims we don't love pandas. But we choose to stay and work here because we love these creatures."

According to the Telegraph, local authorities have seen the inflammatory video and have ordered that staff members at the research base treat the pandas more gently, even if they try to bite or scratch.

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