years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Cruel and abusive practices at Chinese zoos, says new report
10 August 2010
Bears being punched and beaten with sticks and forced to box each other, elephants being jabbed with metal hooks to force them to stand on their heads, and tigers and lions with their teeth and claws removed, causing chronic pain, are amongst the findings of investigations at China’s zoos and safari parks, carried out by Animals Asia Foundation.
A report released today entitled “Performing Animals in Chinese Zoos” details the findings of the investigations carried out at 13 zoos and safari parks in China between September 2009 and August 2010. Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director, David Neale and a team of Chinese investigators have documented in the report and, a short film, the barbaric treatment of animals and the poor living conditions they are forced to endure.
A large number of captive animal establishments in China provide animal performances as a form of entertainment for visitors. The techniques used to force such animals to perform tricks are cruel and abusive. Starting with young animals, trainers often beat them until they perform a desired trick. Showmen frequently engage in negative reinforcement, whipping and striking the animals repeatedly, forcing them to carry out tricks that go against their natural behaviour.
Many big cats used in animal performances have had their canine teeth either removed or cut back to gum level and are de-clawed to make them defenceless. Detoothed lions and tigers were evident at 5 of the 13 parks surveyed. 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 short film, entitled “The Performance” has been produced in conjunction with Environment Films to document the cruelty seen at these parks and zoos. The film is narrated by Terry Waite CBE, with music by Moby, and is available on the website of Environment Films from today here.
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 living conditions for performing animals fail to meet their basic welfare needs. 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.
David Neale, Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director commented:
“Animal performances portray the animal to the public in a humiliating way that does not promote empathy and respect. There is little educational value in seeing animals in conditions that do not resemble their natural habitat. 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”
This report follows the recent news that the Chinese government is launching a campaign to stop the maltreatment of animals that are held for public display. According to a government statement released on 29 July, The State Forestry Administration (SFA) has accused companies staging animal shows of excessive attention to profit-making, resulting in maltreatment and early death of animals.
Summary of findings
Asiatic Black Bears are the most popular performance animal, present at 90% of parks;
75% of parks visited exhibit performing monkeys;
75% exhibit performing tigers;
50% exhibit performing sea-lions;
Five have bird performances; four exhibit performing elephants and two have a dedicated dolphinarium for marine mammal performances.
During the wild animal performances animals are forced through fear, intimidation and in some cases physical force to perform unnatural tricks:
75% of parks visited force bears to ride bicycles;
50% force bears to perform acrobatics on acrobatic rings;
three force bears to ride a motorbike over a high wire 30ft above the ground;
two force bears to ‘box’ with each other;
one exhibits a human wrestling with a bear;
75% force monkeys to ride bicycles;
50% monkeys to perform handstands on the horns of goats, often while the goat is balancing on a tightrope some 10ft above the ground;
the most common tiger acts force tigers to walk on their back legs, jump through hoops of fire and walk on top of large balls;
Elephants were seen at four parks performing humiliating tricks such as standing on their heads, and spinning on one leg.
Of the lesser-seen animal acts, two parks force pigs off the end of 10ft high platforms into water, and one park exhibits monkeys and dogs jumping over the backs of hippopotami.