Many of you are probably already familiar with the live-feeding that goes on up at the Harbin Siberian Tiger Reserve. In case you aren’t, visitors to the “breeding center” are allowed to select various animals for a sum, hop onto a modified van and drive around the enclosures as the freshly-bought animal is thrown to the tigers. Last time we were there (which was the previous winter) you could for ’round about a thousand kuai, choose a goat to get torn to shreds.
However, you don’t need to go so far up north to do that anymore because there’s a live-feeding show in Shanghai’s own backyard. The Shanghai Wildlife Park, who was behind the distasteful Animal Olympics a few years ago, has created such a tour to raise revenues. It’s selling live chickens at 60 RMB a pop so that visitors can watch as they’re thrown to the park’s bears, tigers, and lions.
Never mind how cruel it is for the chicken, feeding the carnivores whenever a visitor decides to buy an animal does not strike us like a sound diet. Facing a minor uproar over their decision to begin the tour, Pan Weihua, the corporate planning manager of the wildlife park, answered, “If the animals are given prepared food, carnivores will lose their ability or desire to hunt.” True that, except tossing chickens out of a bus doesn’t constitute a hunt. And how about all the kiddies who could get scarred for life from watching small creatures come to their violent end? Pan only suggested that parents should choose whether or not to allow their children to watch.
The wildlife park had actually signed a convention in 2005 which bound it and 24 other Chinese zoos from feeding live animals to carnivores in front of their visitors, but that convention only covered big livestock and not small animals like chickens or rabbits–another not so auspicious lead up to the year of the rabbit.
Shanghai and the country at large, just get it wrong again and again when it comes to animals. Frankly, we’re surprised that cringe-inducing parks and zoos of this sort continue to exist in a post-Olympics Beijing and post-Expo Shanghai. If only we were making this up.