Tuesday, August 10, 2010

China's "barbaric animal abuse"

A year long investigation by a team of British and Chinese activists has revealed that cruel and abusive treatment of animals remains common in China's zoos and safari parks. Sky News highlighted the continuing animal cruelty on Tuesday with a report by their China Correspondent Holly Williams [Sky - video].

British charity Animals Asia, has published a report after a year long investigation in China, and it makes grim reading. Videos and photographs show bears being forced to box, toothless tigers riding on the back of horses, pigs being pushed off a 10ft diving board and monkeys performing handstands on the horns of a goat.

David Neale, Animals Asia's animal welfare director, said that many of the animals were often brutalised during training for their "tricks". They are also kept in unsanitary and cramped conditions, the charity found.

"The animals are housed in small, barren, concrete enclosures often in darkened rooms at the back of the performance areas away from the visitors," the report said, "Many of the animals have no visible access to water. Animals have no access to a shelter to hide from individuals within their enclosure, and no attempts are made to meet the behavioural needs of these species."

"Teaching animals to perform inappropriate tricks does nothing to educate the public or foster respect for animals. These performances teach the public nothing except for the animals' size, shape and colour" [ITN / Telegraph].

At zoos across China it is not uncommon to see visitors taunting the animals. Small cages result in stereotypy in many animals. These behaviour may be maladaptive, involving self-injury or reduced reproductive success. At Kunming Zoo tvnewswatch witnessed elephants pacing back and force in repeated motions. Nearby big cats and black bears were confined in small cages as audiences gathered to watch live animal acts. In Beijing black bears are trained to perform for tourists at the Badaling section of the Great Wall. But these are just the tip of the ice-berg. There are far more cruel examples which the tourists do not see.

China is increasingly aware of its poor image abroad for animal welfare, and last week the country's State Forestry Administration (SFA) launched a campaign to stop animals being abused for profit and public display. But it will take time to have an effect in a country which sees animal welfare as being low on people's priority [Animals Asia].

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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