What would be your response if we were to pose the question, “what is better than a black bear and a white Siberian tiger sporting traditional sevillanas dresses, adorned with flowers and dancing a Spanish Flamenco under the bright lights of a ballroom platform, televised for all of the world to see?” Well, if you’re like us, then kangaroo boxing and monkey-ostrich pair jousting may come to mind. But, now, it seems that some international group of party-poopers* known as “animal rights advocates” have deprived Shanghailanders of the one sure-fire joy of living in China: the Shanghai Animal Olympics has been canceled.
The International Herald Tribune quotes a “woman who answered the phone” at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park as saying that the Animal Olympics has been canceled “out of consideration for the safety of our visitors.” We assume that by “out of consideration for the safety of our visitors” she means the Animal Olympics became an embarrassment to the Shanghai government after animal rights advocates publicized the Animal Olympics via the Internet and through numerous foreign media channels in tandem with a letter-writing campaign to the central government’s tourism authority and Shanghai officials. Shanghai Wild Animal Park official Su Feilong commented in the Shanghai Daily, “The games never caused any trouble before, but we received complaints this year, so we stopped them.” The Shanghai Daily said the Animal Olympics closed down “quietly” two weeks ago — they were scheduled to run until the end of the month.
Daniel Turner of the British animal rights group Born Free, is quoted from the group’s website: “This is degrading for the animals, insulting to our intelligence and a disaster for any possible chance of increasing respect for the wild animals we share the world with.” Born Free’s website has more pictures and damning information on the Shanghai Animal Olympics, including the contact information of officials to whom the concerned can send complaints.
Further, the International Herald Tribune writes:
The cancellation indicated heightened sensitivity to negative publicity about animal welfare in China, where such shows are common at zoos and animal parks and rarely draw complaints from the Chinese public. But growing concern is evident and is often linked to personal freedoms such as the right to own a pet, which used to be banned by the communist regime.
Earlier this year, mass slaughters of dogs in an effort to control rabies sparked criticism even from state-controlled media. A campaign in Beijing to enforce strict rules on dog ownership, including limiting ownership to one dog, also prompted a rare public protest earlier this month by about 500 demonstrators outside a city zoo.
“Chinese law only seeks to protect rare wild animals and there is little that can be done to publicize the importance of animal protection in general,” said Tao Rongfang, of the Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association, a private voluntary group that is one of China’s oldest animal welfare organizations.
“It’s good to see that some of our citizens realize this problem and … object against this,” Tao said.
* Disclaimer: Not to underestimate you, but this is sarcasm, folks. We do not support the Animal Olympics.
Also on Shanghaiist
How you can help stop the Shanghai Animal Olympics