Nearly a month

after being crushed to death when China's earthquake collapsed the wall of her enclosure, a 9-year-old panda named Mao Mao was laid to rest yesterday in a corner of the famed Wolong Nature Reserve.

The remains were laid

in

a wooden crate and wheeled to where a freshly dug grave awaited.

The director

of the reserve's breeding center stood cap in hand and shoveled in a few spades of dirt. Then Mao Mao's keeper stepped forward crying, and arranged two apples and a piece of bread by the grave. Three minutes of silence followed as workers gathered around the grave.

The facility was badly

damaged by the May 12 quake, but officials initially thought all 64 pandas had survived. Then they discovered two were missing. Mao Mao's body was found Monday, buried under debris.

The loss of the panda

, a mother of five, was a blow to the breeding program at Wolong because she was killed in her prime, something that rarely happens.

Wedged in a narrow

valley, Wolong was pummeled by landslides on both sides. Panda enclosures were smashed, and the entry gate for visitors was buried under stones.

Wolong's panda cubs

, 14 of them, played outdoors yesterday, less than 30 yards from a huge pile of debris left by a landslide.

- Associated Press