Caught on camera: Staff in China drag panda cubs and throw them around pen

Three panda keepers at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding were caught on video handling the cute, cuddly creatures in a rough manner.

The video was posted by a Weibo user who had visited the base on July 12 and said, "It would be 'understandable' if keepers had to drag or throw cubs 'for a couple of times'.

"However in the live-streaming today, Rou Rou and Man Man were repeatedly thrown onto the ground. I can't bear it."

In the clip which has since sparked accusations of animal abuse among outraged netizens, the keepers can be seen dragging the baby pandas and throwing them onto the ground.

Many users criticised how the keepers handled the animals, calling their behaviour 'unacceptable' and 'brutal'.

However, more sceptical ones challenged the footage's authenticity and claimed the uploader had purposefully sped up the video.

In addition, the organisation has also responded to the controversy and explained that its workers were simply trying to prevent the pandas from escaping from their pen.

According to Shanghaiist, an employee said that the cubs had been particularly excited that day, biting and scratching people.

One of the keepers even showed off a nasty bite mark that was still present on his hand more than a week later.

Regardless, the breeding centre's director said that the three keepers had been reprimanded for their rough treatment of the cubs and that they would be instructed on how to deal with the situation with a more gentle approach in future.