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Easy prey: how death stalks China's zoo animals
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  • http://english.dbw.cn銆€銆€ 2010-03-26 11:20:29
     

    Zoo animals, including large and endangered species, have been found starving and dying in a number of Chinese zoos as a result of neglect and mismanagement, an investigation by Xinhua has found.

    The most shocking discovery by Xinhua reporters was a mass burial pit filled with animal carcases and left uncovered since mid 2009 at one zoo in northeast China.

    Xinhua launched its probe in the wake of the deaths of 11 tigers in a zoo in northeast China's Liaoning Province early this year, and found:

    -- a zoo in southwest China leasing out tigers for circus-style performances in order to pay for food.

    -- big cats being fed on chicken bones because meat is too expensive.

    -- a lethal illness spread unchecked through animals at one zoo because managers could not afford veterinary care.

    A FATAL MOVE

    Many of the problems are a direct result of China's mass urbanization over the last 30 years. With the rising tide of people streaming into the cities, property developers have covetously eyed the prime real estate occupied by the traditionally popular inner city zoos.

    The demand for city center land has prompted many local authority-run zoos to decamp to more spacious sites outside urban areas where they can build up stocks and free animals from confined cages.

    However, these new sites are often too far from population centers or just inconveniently located for the public -- and visitor numbers have plunged with drastic results.

    "Many urban zoos have been forced to relocate to outlying areas. All such relocated zoos we know are doing badly," said Xie Zhong, deputy secretary general of the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG).

    "When they become difficult for the public to reach, visit numbers fall," said Xie. "When a zoo is not doing well financially, animals suffer."

    The CAZG represents 200 zoos, double its membership of 100 when it was founded in the 1980s. "Most of our members are affiliated to state-owned entities. We don't have the figure of private zoos or safari parks, which have been mushrooming across China."

    She cited the Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo, where the 11 Siberian tigers died of malnutrition earlier this year, and the former Harbin Zoo, now the Harbin Northern Forest Zoo, as zoos that suffered from relocation.

    "It seems a good thing that old zoos are replaced by new safari parks where animals can live in the open air instead of cages, but new zoos are far from residential areas and fewer people visit them, slashing their main income," said Hu Zhongping, secretary general of the CAZG.

    Relocated zoos were larger and often had more animals to feed and much higher maintenance costs, so privatization usually followed, Hu said.

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    Author锛? Fang Ning, Kong Xiaohan 銆€銆€銆€Source锛? xinhua 銆€銆€銆€ Editor锛? Yang Fan
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