Another small step for captive wild animals in China
Animal protection groups rally to end the suffering of captive tiger cub
On 26 August 2011 photos were posted on a popular Chinese website showing a tiger cub being used for photography sessions at the Lushun Lion & Tiger Park in Dalian. The person posting the photos explained that the tiger cubs handler was seen hitting the tiger when it was unwilling to co-operate for the photographs.
This is a sight which Animal Asia investigators have seen many times during our visits to zoos and safari parks across the country. In Aug 2010 following the release of our investigation into abusive practices at zoos and safari parks in China, the State Forestry Administration issued a directive to all wild animal establishments to end such close-contact activates between visitors and wild animals. This action was later supported by a directive issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development to all zoos in October 2010.
It is evident that a number of parks continue to abuse animals such as this tiger cub for photographic opportunities despite these directives.
Following the publication of the tiger cub pictures animal protection groups in Dalian and Prof Mang Ping, professor of sociology and one of China’s leading academic animal advocates, contacted the Dalian Forestry Department and the Lushan Lion & Tiger Park manager asking for the tiger cub to be removed from the park, and enquiring as to how this park could have been granted a licence to carry out this activity.
Following these complaints, the Director of the Dalian Wildlife and Plants Protection Station visited the park. The park manager has since stopped the photography sessions and the tiger cub has been put back into its enclosure. The manager has also given his assurance not to conduct these activities in the future.
This small action to protect the welfare of one tiger cub is encouraging for a number of reasons: it shows an increasing willingness of animal advocates in China to take action on individual cases of captive animals suffering. It demonstrates regional government support for the zoo directives issued in 2010 to be upheld, and it also demonstrates that the park owners are concerned about their public image and are prepared to listen and act following public criticism.
Since the publication of our ‘performing animal’ investigation report and video in August 2010 we have seen an increasing number of such individual actions being taken by members of Chinese animal protection groups. Earlier this year Prof Mang Ping also encouraged her students to carry out their own investigations into animal performances in zoos and safari parks and the results were highlighted to the media during a press conference which demonstrated continuing animal abuse at a number of parks, clearly contravening the directives issued by the government.
We are pleased to see these actions being taken by Chinese academics, animal protection organisations and regional government representatives to protect captive wild animals from abusive situations. We continue to work with the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens to end these instances of abuse and to develop management guidelines to improve the welfare of all captive animals.