China has stripped the licenses of seven animal parks and ordered more than 50 others to crack down on abusive practices after inspections revealed a host of violations, state media said yesterday.
The punishments came two months after the government had called on local authorities to ban animal performances in zoos and improve park management amid persistent concerns about the poor conditions in the nation’s wildlife parks.
Since that announcement, six government teams inspected 500 animal parks nationwide — and discovered mistreatment of animals, the illegal sale of wildlife products and cases of injuries to visitors, the China Daily said.
The report said those inspections revealed that shows at zoos had resulted in “frequent abuse and exploitation” of the animals.
“Both the security of endangered species and the safety of the public are threatened by improper management,” the paper quoted the deputy head of the State Forestry Administration, Yin Hong (印紅), as saying.
China has roughly 700 zoos, wildlife parks and circuses that stage animal performances, attracting about 150 million visitors a year, according to the newspaper.
Activists have for years railed against dire conditions in China’s zoos and safari parks, and animal performances have caused particular concern.
The Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation said earlier this year that showmen frequently whipped and struck animals during shows in China, “forcing them to carry out tricks that go against their natural behavior.”
Hua Ning (華寧), an official in the Beijing office of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said the new restrictions were a “positive step.”
“The government needs to help zoos and aquariums cancel some performances that entertain visitors but harm animals,” Hua told the China Daily.
A series of scandals this year highlighted bad conditions in wildlife parks and prompted Beijing to draft the country’s first animal protection law, which is still under consideration.
Earlier this year, 11 endangered Siberian tigers starved to death at a cash-strapped park in the northeastern province of Liaoning, where they were fed chicken bones, and two others were shot after they mauled a worker.