Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

This is sick! China: Gore draws Chinese to animal parks

Expand Messages
  • Alexandra Yurkiw
    China: Gore draws Chinese to animal parks http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/213773_pac28.html Monday, February 28, 2005 Pacific Currents: Gore draws
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2005
    • 0 Attachment


       
      China: Gore draws Chinese to animal parks


      http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/213773_pac28.html

      Monday, February 28, 2005

      Pacific Currents: Gore draws Chinese to animal parks

      By JULIE CHAO
      COX NEWS SERVICE

      HARBIN, China -- Cameras and videos are ready. Kids' noses are pressed to
      the windows. Chinese tourists packed into a minibus are on the lookout for
      Siberian tigers, one of the most endangered species in the world.

      While some of these visitors may be animal lovers, they have not paid $7
      apiece merely to drive around and admire the huge felines lounging about in
      their snowy compounds.

      They are here to see some action. But first, they must pay.

      "You can buy a domesticated chicken for 40 yuan ($4.80) or for 100 yuan
      ($12.10) you can buy a wild one, which flies," the driver announces. "The
      effect is much different; it's exceptionally thrilling."

      In their hourlong tour of this park, tourists will watch ravenous tigers
      chasing down live chickens, sheep and cows. Feathers will be plucked and
      limbs torn by the 300-pound cats while the tourists gasp, scream, cheer and
      recoil at the carnage.

      Wild animals for human entertainment have become big business in
      China. In
      just a decade, almost 30 "wild animal parks," with tens of thousands of
      tigers, lions, monkeys, deer and other animals, have opened.

      The first opened in the southern city of
      Shenzhen 12 years ago. When it
      became a huge success, it spawned others. Many of the investors -- some of
      them local governments, some of them private companies -- knew and cared
      little about animals.

      Like many new industries in
      China, this one grew quickly without government
      oversight. Several people have been mauled to death at parks. Because
      China
      has no laws on animal welfare or independent animal rights groups, living
      conditions and treatment of the animals vary widely.

      One park put a turtle in a glass box and allowed people to throw coins at it
      so they could try to hit its shell. At another, a tiger's head was chained
      down so that children could climb on its back for photos.

      A few parks even allow visitors to pay extra to watch a live horse get
      devoured by lions and tigers.

      But in a sign of the nascent civil society and emerging activist spirit
      here, a group of college students took it upon themselves to investigate the
      industry last year. They visited 21 wild animal parks and issued their
      scathing report in December.

      "Their sole goal is profit," said Athena Liu, a 23-year-old graduate student
      at
      Beijing Normal University and one of the authors. "The parks will do
      anything to attract visitors. If the visitors want it, they'll do it.

      "Sometimes they starve the lions and tigers to make them perform better,"
      she said.

      The students also found evidence that animals were imported illegally and
      bred unscientifically. One park veterinarian told them the death rate is
      quite high, and that of all his tasks, what he does the most is conduct
      necropsies.

      Harbin's Siberian Tiger Park is one of the few wild animal parks that is not
      purely commercial. It also receives some government support for breeding
      programs. There are believed to be only a dozen or so Siberian tigers in the
      wild in
      China, with 300 in Russia.

      Director Wang Ligang said the park has barely enough money to feed its
      nearly 500 tigers. Much as he loathes the idea of the feeding performances,
      it's an economic necessity.

      After the driver announces the chicken prices, 100 yuan notes are passed up
      to the front of the bus.

      A white jeep drives up and a wild chicken is quickly tossed out. With an
      easy swipe of a paw, a tiger quickly captures it, and then again with a
      second chicken.

      The tourists start griping. They were promised a chase, and they call for
      another flying chicken. The driver talks into his radio. Another bird is
      released.

      This time it stands on the roof of the jeep for several minutes while the
      tigers circle. Suspense builds. Cameras are readied. Suddenly the bird takes
      off, flying straight into the bus window. The tigers give chase. Everyone
      screams. Since the bird can't fly very high, a tiger catches it within
      seconds.

      Chinese tourists say the park is good for tiger conservation.

      "The tigers have to eat. The only difference is whether you see it or not,"
      said Lu Yingwu, who was visiting from Shenzhen with his wife and 7-year-old
      son.





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]







      For more information on Asian animal issues, please use the search feature
      on the AAPN website: http://www.aapn.org/ or search the list archives at:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aapn
      Please feel free to send any relevant news or comments to the list at
      aapn@yahoogroups.com
      Yahoo! Groups Links










      For more information on Asian animal issues, please use the search feature on the AAPN website: http://www.aapn.org/ or search the list archives at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aapn
      Please feel free to send any relevant news or comments to the list at aapn@yahoogroups.com




    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.