China Zoo Cruelty, Abuse Crackdown: Facilities Face Closure For Animal
Performances, Wildlife Product Sales And Inadequate Food & Shelter
BEIJING — China has urged zoos to stop serving wild animal products and holding
wildlife performances in an attempt to improve the treatment of tigers, bears
and other animals amid concerns over widespread abuse in zoos and wildlife
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development posted the suggestions on
its website Tuesday and said inspections would be carried out to see if zoos
Animal welfare groups have documented widespread abuse in Chinese zoos and
wildlife parks, including animal neglect, beatings, and the illegal sale of wine
or soup made from the bones of endangered tigers.
The Hong Kong-based animal welfare group Animals Asia Foundation released a
report in August that said bears in Chinese zoos were regularly whipped and
beaten with sticks, while elephants were prodded with metal hooks, and tigers
and lions were defanged and declawed, causing them chronic pain.
Earlier this year, 11 rare Siberian tigers died at a wildlife park in China's
frigid northeast and zookeepers there said they didn't have enough funding to
feed or take care of them properly. Rights groups said the zoo might have been
selling the tiger skins and bones on the black market.
Sales of tiger bone, penis, pelts and other parts are illegal in China but
persist because some consumers believe the products increase potency or can cure
ailments from convulsions to skin disease.
The housing ministry said zoos should provide adequate food and shelter for
their animals, halt all sales of wildlife products in zoo restaurants or stores
and stop staging animal performances.
It said zoos could be shut down or receive a citation if they disobey the
guidelines during the three-month inspection period that began Oct. 18. But it
did not say whether the requirements would eventually be made permanent.
The Animals Asia Foundation said black bears are the most popular animal
performers in China, typically forced to ride bicycles, tricycles and even
horses, and regularly whipped or beaten with sticks by their trainers.
Sun Quanhui, a Wildlife Conservation Society researcher based in northeast
China's Hunchun city, said Wednesday that the suggestions from the housing
ministry were "very welcome news," but that they did not amount to a long-term
solution to China's animal abuse problems.
China has been working on a draft animal protection law, but it has yet to be
finalized and it's unclear when it will be passed.
"We feel that these new guidelines are a good thing because they could improve
the welfare of animals in zoos and help standardize the conduct at zoos," Sun
said. "We hope that in the future we will be able to have an actual animal
welfare law that helps guarantee the basic needs of animals in zoos and