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Due to the very poor weather conditions we did not spend time travelling around the park to see all of the enclosures therefore there is little information within this report on the general conditions for all species housed at Shenzhen Safari Park.
Signage of Shenzhen Safari Park, Shenzeng, Guangdong Province, China.
Shenzhen Safari Park was established in 1993 and is reportedly one of the first safari parks to be developed in China; it occupies an area of about 120 hectares (296.5 acres).
In the late 1990s, Animals Asia staff worked with Shenzhen Safari Park to help nine rescued farmed bears in the local area. Animals Asia has been documenting conditions at Shenzhen Safari Park ever since.
The entrance fee is 100 RMB per person.
Contact Details Shenzhen Safari Park
Xili Rd, Nanshan District, Shenzhen City
Guangdong Province, 518055
People"s Republic of China
The Shenzhen Safari Park is endorsed by the Shenzhen Tourism Group.
The areas of the park visited appear outdated, shabby and in need of repair and upgrading. The caged enclosures are barren, with concrete floors and little or no enrichment facilities. This is the case for the lemurs and red pandas exhibited close to the entrance gate. The pheasant and peacock enclosures consist of concrete flooring with no grass and no dust-bathing areas.
Specific species issues - Camels
One camel seen continually neck-twisting.
Specific species issues - Ostriches
A number of ostriches, both male and female, have poor feather quality leading to large areas of exposed skin.
No signage relating to species conservation, habitat conservation and/or general species behaviour and ecology were observed.
No adverse public behaviour within the main "zoo" area of the park was seen.
No members of staff were observed in the public areas.
NOTE: Due to the weather, there were few visitors to the park and of these visitors none were seen walking around the enclosures
Three examples of stereotypic behaviour were observed: Elephant bar-biting and rocking; Camel neck-twisting; Bears pacing
NOTE: Due to the rain we visited a very small percentage of the park and only observed a small percentage of the animals present therefore it is not possible to make an assessment on stereotypic behaviour of animals at the park.
No use of animals for photographs was observed.
This is a serious issue; bears are accessible to members of the public in a "backstage" area.
Within the performance area, netting is used to keep the performing tigers and lions in the arena and away from the public. This netting would not be able to prevent the tigers and lions from escaping.
Animal performances General
Shenzhen Safari Park has a tiger and lion performance arena, an ocean performance arena and a "Grand Parade" arena. Due to the weather, the grand parade was cancelled.
Tiger and lion performance
The animals show “defensive threat” behaviour, with their ears laid back, mouth open which would normally show their teeth (in this case the canines of these tigers have been removed), nose wrinkled, eyes narrowed, and tail held low. Due to fear of the showmen, no “offensive threat” behaviour is observed. The tigers growl, snarl and hiss at the trainers owing to their stress and discomfort during the performance. The lions use their paws to keep the showmen at a distance, but did not use their paws in an offensive manner.
In general the tigers and lions are in fear of the circus showmen and cower when the showmen approach. The tigers attempt to comfort each other and show natural behaviour when possible. This includes face rubbing, allowing individuals to transfer body scents from their face glands and reinforce social bonds. This behaviour is often seen between mother tigers and their young, and between courting pairs. The tigers in the arena performed this behaviour when possible.
Public reaction during performance
The public showed enthusiasm, clapping and laughing throughout the performance, although the general feeling is this performance has been seen by the public before and holds no major attraction.
Human acrobats are used to entertain the crowd, these acrobats perform a variety of tricks and high dives.
Public reaction during performance The public showed enthusiasm, clapping throughout the performance of animal tricks. The public's enthusiasm increased during the human performances. The acrobats “played to the crowd”, encouraging them to clap and get “involved” with the performers. There is a noticeable difference between the general crowd reaction when watching the animals and the human performers.
There is little educational value for people to see animals that are not housed in conditions resembling their natural habitat; nor is there any educational value in watching animals in captivity performing tricks. Experts attest that exhibiting such animals in fear and stress leads to a misrepresentation of the species in the public eye and teaches them nothing except the animals' size, shape and colour.
Loud music is used during animal performances; this music can cause stress and severe welfare problems. Teaching animals to perform inappropriate tricks does not do anything to educate the public or foster respect for animals. There is no evidence to indicate that training and performance make up for the lack of stimulation provided by impoverished living accommodation.
The physical conditions for animals used in performances are appalling. The tigers and lions have been detoothed, and this practice causes severe and chronic pain owing to the exposure of the pulp and nerve endings, and leads to potential infection of the surrounding area, including gums, jawbone and nasal region. The tigers and lions appear to have been declawed; a practice which causes significant pain and leads to an inability for the animals to perform natural behaviour. The tigers and lions are also malnourished and unnaturally thin, leading to further physical problems and misery.
The showmen in the tiger and lion performance use fear to control the animals and force them to carry out humiliating tricks. This only demonstrates a need to dominate other species rather than a respect for the behavioural, ecological and conservation needs of these individuals and the species they represent.
Confining dolphins to captivity is a serious welfare issue. Dolphins are wide-ranging, social animals and captivity leads to a life of severe deprivation, with many animals suffering reduced life-expectancy and higher infant mortality rates than in the wild. Dolphin tanks are small and cramped compared to the open ocean. The water in dolphin tanks is chemically-treated, meaning that no live fish or plants can be placed inside, thus leaving the tank bare and largely featureless, with no mental stimulation. In addition, the chemical can potentially cause ulcers and skin lesions.
China, along with many countries across the world, has no minimum standards for housing captive dolphins. The use of dolphins for entertainment also leads to dolphins being caught from the wild to supply the entertainment and captivity business.
The practice of allowing the public to swim with the dolphins also has serious welfare and health implications.
Risks to dolphins in these attractions:
Dolphins cannot escape from human swimmers they don't want to interact with.
Dolphins have been observed demonstrating signs of alarm when they are in close proximity to swimmers.
Nails, jewellery and suntan creams can damage dolphins' delicate skin.
Dolphins in petting pools are often obese and are at risk of injury from competitive pool mates and ingestion of foreign objects.
Dolphins are often kept in unsafe, unsanitary and over-crowed conditions.
Risks to the human participants:
Dolphins are wild and unpredictable animals, even when well trained.
There is the risk of disease transmission between humans and dolphins.
People have been injured, sometimes seriously, swimming with dolphins.
Dolphin Assisted Therapy has not been demonstrated to have any long-term beneficial impact on those who have attend a programme and there are no official standards or enforceable guidelines relating to it. 1
Zoos and safari parks are ideally placed to foster compassion for animals and raise awareness and understanding of the welfare and conservation needs of individual animals and species. Shenzhen Safari Park makes no attempt to provide this knowledge and to educate its visitors for the benefit of welfare and conservation
Meeting with park officials Following the visit, Animals Asia meet with the Head of Marketing at Shenzhen Safari Park to discuss major concerns with regards the appalling welfare conditions the animals within the park face. The discussion concentrated upon the following issues:
Tigers and lions being de-clawed and de-toothed.
The use of fear by showmen and negative reinforcement by beating animals into submission.
The despicable housing conditions for the bears used in grand parade.
The appalling physical condition of the bears including teeth cut back to their gums, de-clawed, and one bear showing signs of cataracts and blindness.
No animal-welfare expert was available to comment. Animals Asia has since written to the Director of Shenzhen Safari Park to express major concerns and call for immediate action to reduce animal suffering.
Animals Asia recommendations
Immediate medical attention provided for blind bear.
Immediate medical assessment performed by a qualified and knowledgeable veterinarian on the physical state of all animals used in “animal performances”.
Immediate end to the practice of de-toothing and de-clawing tigers and bears.
Immediate end to the use of animals in performances and a move towards developing more human acrobatic displays.
Provision of larger enclosures and enrichment tools for all animals housed within the safari park in order to allow them to exhibit more naturalistic behaviours.
Meet with Animals Asia staff to discuss the management and husbandry of the bears, and seek advice on veterinary treatment, appropriate housing, environmental enrichment, and improved food and nutrition.