Animal lovers across Weibo are up in arms recently after a photo taken at the Beijing Zoo showing an extremely skinny and sad-looking lion went viral online.
The photo was taken by some animal rights activists and posted to their Weibo page. They also posted another picture from the zoo showing a scrawny-looking tiger. The activists questioned the zoo’s treatment of its big cats, theorizing that they were not being fed properly.
According to Sina, after the photos went viral online, local reporters went to investigate, but could not find the animals in question on display. The two lionesses there seemed in good health.
Officials from the Beijing Zoo told reporters that they did in fact have the lion shown in the picture, but that nothing was seriously wrong with him, he had just been a little sick for the past few days and had not been eating much. Therefore, they pulled him from display.
They also responded that the tiger in question was a Bengal tiger and this type of tiger is normally smaller than others, so the animal in the picture was actually quite normal. However, officials added that in the future they plan to pay closer attention to the diet of their large felines and will begin to regularly monitor their weight.
Last year several photos of an emaciated tiger at the Tianjin Zoo were posted online by a Weibo user, thousands of furious web users poured in over the matter and called on zoo officials to take better care of the animal’s living condition.
The Weibo post read: “These pictures were taken by a friend of mine. I can’t help but cry when I see this. I have no idea how to help, but just I emailed the Animal Protection Organization. Hope it will work. Whoever has a clue how to help, please take action to improve the tiger’s living condition. I am asking for the people concerned to investigate it and to treat animals better!”
Despite repeated assurances from zoo officials, most netizens don’t seem to be buying it and are asking for better care and more oversight.
“I think we should not feed these zookeepers properly and see how much they like it,” one netizen from Beijing commented.