The Times newspaper tells us that there is a gruesome video online which shows a live donkey being fed to tigers at a zoo in eastern China. The video has gone viral. Once again we are in a debate about the attitude of the Chinese government towards animal welfare.
Perhaps most of the world is by now aware that there are no animal protection/welfare laws in China. Is this a reflection of the attitude of the Chinese towards animals? I don’t think it is. There are many Chinese people who have an excellent attitude towards animal welfare. However, there is a segment of Chinese society which disregards animal welfare and treats animals almost as if they are inanimate objects who do not feel pain and have no feelings.
I do not expect you to view this video. I have not done so.
The zoo is Yancheng Wild Animal World. It is in Jiangsu Province. Two tigers attacked the donkey for 30 minutes. The poor donkey suffered bites and swipes for 30 minutes and was then mercifully killed by the tigers.
Closed circuit television filmed the ordeal (update: I think a visitor filmed it). The video was shared widely with comments being posted on social media condemning the zoo.
Men forced the donkey out of the back of a lorry. It fell into an area of the tiger enclosure which is filled with water. This was feeding time for the tigers. Apparently this method of feeding the tigers was disputed between staff at the zoo but the owner appears to have insisted that it happened.
Update: the Guardian newspaper states that it was shareholders of the zoo who pushed the donkey into the tiger enclosure. They were annoyed to have failed to receive returns from their investment in the zoo due to a court case. They said that pushing the donkey into the tiger closure saves money.
One person who viewed the video said:
“It is cruel because it is not even natural selection. It became a pure sacrifice.”
Although it is illegal to kill endangered animals in China (I would very much doubt that this is enforced) there are no laws regarding the treatment of animals in general. In other words there are no animal welfare laws as mentioned.
This is not the only zoo which feeds live animals to tigers. The Times reports that in tiger farms such as Guilin’s Bear and Tiger Park in southern China, visitors can pay park workers to throw alive animals to tigers although they are usually chickens but this makes little or no difference. It would seem that if a visitor has enough money they can entice a zoo worker into carrying out their demands which may include animal cruelty.
One viewer of the video remarked:
“The little donkey endured a good 30 minutes before it was bitten to death.”
Interestingly, in 2006 a member of China’s parliamentary body, the National People’s Congress proposed animal protection legislation but it did not progress. It seems that the governing body of China lacks interest in animal welfare laws.
There are many tiger farms in China. The tigers are ill treated. They are killed for their body parts. They are killed for tiger bone wine and other tiger products. To farm tigers like this is acutely detrimental to their conservation in the wild. Many people believe that the tiger in the wild is near extinction. Some experts predict that the tiger will be extinct in the wild within about 30 years. The main reason for the continued decline in tiger numbers is poaching for their body parts to be sold to the Chinese market.
We are told that Chinese zoos have become notorious for their ill-judged treatment of animals. In February this year there were accusations of a zoo grossly overfeeding a Siberian tiger.
In a recent article I touched on the question as to whether zoos are good for conservation. I decided that they were not. We can see that zoos in China are very far from being good for conservation. They are sometimes plainly cruel and engaged in animal abuse. There is also the issue of education. This sort of activity is the antithesis of education. It teaches visitors all the wrong things about animals and perpetuates animal abuse in China.