China bans animal circuses
China has banned animal circuses and warned its zoos they must stop abusing
animals or face closure.
Zoos will have to stop attractions where live chickens, goats, cows and even
horses are sold to visitors who can then watch them be torn apart by big cats
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
By Malcolm Moore, Shanghai 9:00PM GMT 18 Jan 2011
Live animal shows and circuses are hugely popular in China, and draw around 150
million visitors a year at 700 zoos. However, animal rights campaigners have
repeatedly complained that the shows should be stopped.
'A zoo in my city had a show where they forced an adult lion to stand on the
back of a horse for a sort of animal acrobatic performance,' said Xiao Bing, the
chairman of the local animal protection association in the southern city of
'I also saw one entertainment park where the monkeys seemed to have wounds all
over their bodies. The manager told me the monkeys got hurt during live
monkey-fighting shows,' he said.
Other cases of abuse include beating lions to make them jump through rings of
fire and forcing bears to walk across tightropes, said Hua Ning, at the
International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Chinese circuses have defended their shows, saying that the animals are well
fed and that teaching them tricks can help them become 'stars'.
However, the Chinese government has now issued a total ban, which came into
force on Tuesday across the 300 state-owned zoos which are part of the China Zoo
'We are hopeful it will have an effect,' said David Neale, the Animal Welfare
Director at Animals Asia. 'I visited Chongqing zoo before Christmas and their
circus was clearing out, and Kunming zoo has also said its circus has been
Other zoos, however, said they had received no notice of the new rules. 'We will
help police the ban and report any cases we find to the government,' vowed Mr
The ban will also force zoos to stop selling animal parts in their shops and zoo
restaurants will have to stop serving dishes made out of rare animals, another
Similarly, zoos will no longer be able to pull the teeth of baby tigers so that
tourists can hold them and will have to stop attractions where live chickens,
goats, cows and even horses are sold to visitors who can then watch them be torn
apart by big cats.
A spokesman for China's State Forestry Bureau said a three-month investigation
last year had uncovered more than 50 zoos where animals were suffering severely
because of abuse.
However, the closure of the shows could push some zoos towards bankruptcy and
may leave many animals with an uncertain future. 'In some cases, I am not sure
where the animals will go,' said Mr Neale.
'In some cases I would recommend euthanasia, since there are animals in a very
bad way after a few years of being in these performances.'