The Global Times has recently run an article titled “Showtime despite ban,” which profiles a 21-year old’s job at an animal circus in Hubei, and oh hey this is state-run media openly flaunting something illegal.
China has a rocky past with animal rights. Even if we exclude all of the food and medicine related incidents (see: shark fin soup, elephant/rhino-based medicines, etc.) various kinds of animal abuse can be found everywhere from the Shanghai Wild Animal Park performances to creepy fish-hypnosis demonstrations on CCTV. The Hubei circus is a pretty black-and-white case, as some Global Times reporter was eager to observe:
Their circus shows, which include jumping tigers, cycling bears and monkeys riding goats, attract throngs of people at 10 am and 2 pm every day.
During peak seasons, like the National Day holidays, the show is put on up to eight times a day, pushing both trainers and animals to the limit.
The trainers’ job is by no means an easy one. For Zhang Jiafeng, 21, who has been performing with the tigers for four years, maintaining safety is still paramount.
During performances, a fence separates the audience from the stage. However, the most dangerous moment for the trainers, Zhang said, is the journey between the den and the stage before and after the show, during which the trainers are placed in an enclosed space with the animals without any protection.
For their credit, the GT article concludes with a note that, “the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has ordered twice, in 2010 and 2013, an end to all kinds of animal performances. The ban has not been seriously observed.” It doesn’t sound like the Global Times is going to call the police anytime soon, and even if they did, it’s uncomfortably clear that the authorities wouldn’t care.
[Image via Global Times]