The horrible animal abusers at Shanghai Wild Animal Park are doing anything they can to restore their public image after video emerged of a bear attacking a monkey during a bear-monkey bike race. Anything that is, apart from stopping the performances themselves.
Shanghai Wild Animal Park spokesperson Pan Weihua told China Daily:
SWAP designs animal performances based on the creatures’ life habits, which he calls “healthy sports”.
“We used to have tigers jumping through a ring of flames. It was a big hit with audiences and profitable. But we later quit doing it because tigers are naturally afraid of fire and we did not want to psychologically harm them,” he said.
In Pan’s defence, black bears are often seen pursuing monkeys on bicycles in the wild, the zoo is just transplanting that wholly normal behaviour to an institutionalised setting.
“The performance is pure mistreatment,” said Zhang Dan, co-founder of China Animal Protection Media Saloon.
“Not a single monkey or black bear would willingly accept such training for the bicycle riding act. Imagine how hard it is for a big, clumsy bear to keep its balance on a bike. It totally goes against the nature of the animal. But they cannot speak for themselves about their fear, pain or unwillingness, and that is very sad.”
China’s laws on the protection of animals are severely lacking and those that do exist are largely toothless. Pan denied that a circular, issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in 2010 banning animal performances nationwide, applied to the Shanghai park.