Zoo ends animal performance after Animals Asia Campaign

16 December 2014

Elephant performance, China

Hangzhou Zoo has announced it will end animal performances – following a nationwide campaign by Animals Asia.

After nearly two decades of continuous animal performances, Hangzhou Zoo announced in November that it would cease at the end of the year.

The move brings state-run Hangzhou Zoo into line with a government directive from 2011 banning animal performances.

Elsewhere, however, Animals Asia research shows that nearly half of China's zoos are yet to follow a three-year-old government directive to end the practice as they continue to exploit loopholes.

Hangzhou Zoo Deputy Director, Wang Hongbo explained the delay by claiming the performing animals and trainers were under contract. With the contracts ending at the end of 2014, the zoo had chosen not to renew them.

Tiger performance, China

Animals Asia's Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

"We're delighted Hangzhou Zoo has taken the step to finally adhere to the government directive on animal performances. We've campaigned long and hard in the city and it's great to see that work pay off."

In July this year, Animals Asia targeted Hangzhou as a key area in efforts to end animal performances. A major awareness raising campaign saw posters erected in super-busy Hangzhou Airport which receives up to 23 million visitors a year.

An "anti animal performance" poster at Hangzhou Airport (1)

The poster campaign included Chinese celebrities such as Karen Mok, who carried the Olympic flame during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The posters carried the following messages:

- No applause needed, only care wanted -- please stop abusing animals, oppose animal performance!

- for a performance, animals have their teeth removed and claws cut

- for a performance, animals are confined, caged and suffer from hunger and thirst

- for a performance, animals are forced to train with whips

- Start with yourself: say no to animal performance!

Anti Animal Performance - Hangzhou (2)

Dave Neale said:

"I hope that zoo managers are seeing the changes within the general public's attitude towards animal welfare and are finally beginning to see this type of entertainment as the public does – as out-dated."

An Animals Asia investigation into the practice of animal performance in China's zoos revealed 47% of zoos have failed to fall in line with the 2011 legislation outlawing the performance of animals.

Of 181 zoos polled by phone, 85 openly claimed to still host regular animal performances with the east of the country boasting the highest concentration of zoos flouting the law.

Animal performances at Chinese zoos can feature chimps, camels, elephants, peacocks and red pandas, but lions, macaques and moon bears are the most common performers.

Anti Animal Performance poster

Unfortunately, despite announcing the end of animal performances at their facility, Hangzhou Zoo have made it clear sea lion performances will continue.

Hangzhou Zoo's Wang Hongbo argues that the directive banning animal performance in China's zoos is only applicable to terrestrial animals – a interpretation of the law to which Animals Asia strongly disagrees.

Over the last few years, Animals Asia has worked to highlight the inherent cruelty of animal performances in China's zoos.

The 'Not Born to Perform' poster competition exceeded all expectations in 2013 with 2,000 entries received. Such was the quality of the images produced, that Beijing Zoo – China's oldest and most prestigious – agreed to exhibit the posters in 2014.

Anti Animal Performance - Hangzhou (1)