This is a type of scandal for Chinese zoos that have been regularly singled out by animal welfare organisations. A terrible video has resurfaced from 2017 showing a live donkey being mauled by a pack of tigers. Filmed in China, the video shows men throwing a live donkey into an enclosure of several tigers. The poor animal, being attacked, is desperately trying to escape.
The scene took place in the Yancheng Safari Park, located in Changzhou, in eastern China. Filmed by a visitor at the zoo, the video shows only the beginning of the incident, yet has still caused an uproar on the internet. According to the South China Morning Post, the tigers took half an hour to kill the donkey, without anyone intervening.
According to a statement, investors, unhappy with the financial returns of the zoo, could be behind the incident. Involved in legal action, Yangcheng Safari Park found itself unable to pay its investors. Claiming conspiracy theories about the zoo, some investors hired men to take animals, including the donkey, and sell them at the entrance of the zoo.
It was only after being stopped by security, that they decided to push the donkey into the tiger enclosure. One investor told the Guardian:
As we can't take any profit, we thought, why not feed them to the tigers? At least then we can save money on animal food.
Quickly turning viral, the video provoked strong criticism. Doug Cress from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, told National Geographic:
It's a terribly sad video because everything is suffering, be it the donkey, the tigers or the public watching them.
According to a specialist, this incident highlights the unsuitable barriers between the visitors and the enclosures at this zoo.
If the zoo had suitable barriers between the visitors and the animal enclosures, one, the men wouldn't have been able to release the donkeys, and two they wouldn't have been able to throw them into the tiger enclosure... Clearly barriers and protection are not effective at this zoo.
This is not the first time that a Chinese zoo has come under fire from critics. Animal parks are regularly criticised for the unsuitability of their facilities and the treatment of visitors. In China, it is not uncommon for visitors to throw unsuitable food or even waste to animals.
Even if the tigers, in this case, did not seem accustomed to receiving live prey, it is in fact, a common practice in other zoos in China. According to a report published in 2015, this was the case at Heilongjiang Siberian Tiger Park, where obese tigers were photographed. At this zoo, visitors would pay to see a live chicken or sheep being fed to the tigers. Dave Neale from the organisation, Animal Asia told National Geographic:
If someone pays enough, some parks are ready to do anything. It undermines the educational value of a zoo - I do not see the educational value of doing something like that.
According to the expert, the Yangcheng Safari Park, is accredited by the Chinese Association of Zoological Parks, an organisation, full of 'good intentions' but lacking resources to strengthen the rules of animal welfare amongst its members.