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VIDEO: China’s private zoos accused of poaching and “laundering” wild animals

23 March 2017

Investigation raises possibility of large scale poaching and “laundering” of illegally trafficked animals at private Chinese zoos.

Chinese social media has reacted with horror to an investigation by a local NGO alleging poaching by Chinese zoos.

Local group, the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) released a short documentary on Tuesday of its investigation into three private Chinese zoos.

The shocking footage includes:

  • Emaciated tigers in battery style cages
  • A deformed python
  • Potentially blind bears
  • Primates with serious skin conditions

In addition to harrowing footage of neglect at all three facilities, staff at one zoo were caught on camera boasting they illegally poach endangered wildlife and sell them on to bigger zoos and safari parks around the country.

The documentary alleges that such small, loosely regulated zoos are able to “launder” wild, protected species and sell them on to more established facilities as captive-bred animals.

CBCGDF claim that of the roughly 400 zoos in China, “most” are loosely regulated private zoos. Many lack transparency regarding the number of animals they hold, their origin and the welfare conditions at the facilities.

The boasting staff member caught on camera at Longyan Minxi Zoo in Fujian province claimed representatives from Ningbo Zoo had recently purchased tigers and snub-nosed monkeys following the high profile mauling of a visitor at their zoo in January 2017. Following the incident, Ningbo Zoo’s tigers had been shot.

In addition to Longyan Minxi Zoo, the CBCGDF investigation also visited Tongling Zoo (Anhui province) and Chaozhou Zoo (Guangdong province) between February 15 and 17, 2017.

The shocking expose, first published by production company Pear, was viewed almost 4 million times within 24 hours of being posted to Chinese social media site, Weibo.

Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

“The conditions the animals are kept in at the zoos in this expose are utterly unacceptable. The tigers are in battery-style cages with no enrichment whatsoever and many are clearly suffering from injuries and disease. There is no educational benefit to these facilities whatsoever, and it does look like they exist for no other reason than to make money. How they are making that money is the big question – how many animals do these hundreds of facilities hold, and where have they come from? At the moment nobody knows.

“We absolutely support CBCGDF’s call that China urgently needs animal welfare standards, regulations and laws at their captive animal facilities to avoid such abuse and the possibility of flouting national laws on the poaching of wild animals.”