Fri, Dec 27, 2002 - Page 10 News List

China wants people to have their tiger and eat it too

REUTERS , BEIJING

One hundred tigers and 2,000 alligators have been flown from Thailand to China to grace an animal park where visitors will be able to admire and eat some of the creatures displayed, a park official said yesterday.

The Bengal tigers and Siam alligators were biding their time in a breeding center after arriving in Hainan island on Tuesday, before moving into the "Sanya Love World" theme park ahead of its opening next year.

Visitors will be able to have their photos taken alongside the big cats and feed them. There will also be pig races and elephant shows, said an official from Sanya Maitree Concept Corp Ltd, a Sino-Thai joint venture.

"We will also build restaurants to let people taste alligator meat, pharmacies for alligator medicine and build leather processing centers," she said by telephone, adding live alligators would also be displayed.

"After we have bred tigers for a few years, we might have over 1,000 of them. Tourists are likely to eat tiger meat at Sanya," she said, referring to the beach resort on tropical Hainan off mainland China's south coast.

The Web site www.sina.com.cn published a Nan Times story with the headline: "A hundred tigers arrive in Hainan, Sanya to allow eating tiger meat openly."

But Sanya Maitree's general manager, Chi Zengqing, played down plans to serve up tigers.

"This would be impossible, unless UN animal protection policies changed," he said. "We would have the right conditions to benefit from policy changes as we will be the biggest tiger house in the world."

The tigers were provided by private Thailand Maitree Concept Limited Co, the Thai partner in the joint venture, company officials said. They declined to provide financial details.

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