A horse pulling a sightseeing car with four tourists onboard suddenly fell over and died while it was walking up a steep slope yesterday in Shenzhen Safari Park. Tourists believed that the emaciated horse died from overwork, which was also confirmed by a few security guards in the park. The park claimed that heart failure was the cause of its death.
When a tourist surnamed Shi arrived at the park, he learned from other tourists that the gray horse lying on the ground had died suddenly. Its eyes and mouth were wide open. A pool of liquid could be seen under its body.
“The dead horse looked very skinny and malnourished,” Shi said, “It died while it was walking up the slope. The slope is steep and the horse dragging a car carrying four tourists. It must have been very heavy.”
An employee at the zoo told reporters that the horse sightseeing tours were part of a program signed both by a contractor and the zoo. The contractor is responsible for feeding the horse food while the zoo is in charge of physical check-ups. He said that he wasn’t able to show the contract or tell reporters how much profit the zoo earned from the tours.
A vet from the zoo said they performed an autopsy on the horse and found that the animal had died from a heart attack, not from “being too tired”.
“Horses are like people. They can fall ill and suffer from diseases such as heart attacks and thrombosis,” said a worker in the zoo. “Horses can live as long as 20 years, and this one is about 15 years old.”
Several security guards told reporters that when holiday time rolls around, the animal works more.
Shi pointed out that many of the roads in the zoo are very steep. The horses taking tourists for a ride all look rather tired and weary. He believes that the contractor was seeking profit without considering the horse’s health and that the zoo didn’t fulfill its responsibility over the animals’ health and safety.
By Lucy Liu
[ Images via Changjiang Daily ]