Throw them to tigers for fun, says zoo

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 1995, 12:00am

TOURISTS pay just $20 a time to buy live chickens at Shenzhen Safari Park and hurl the terrified birds into a pen of starving tigers.

And startled children burst into tears as they watch the birds, sold by a hawker within the zoo grounds, being torn apart in a pit of lions, tigers and bears.

Hong Kong's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has received 30 complaints from tourists who have visited the park since its September 1993 opening.

Animals from Hong Kong's Lai Chi Kok amusement park were rehoused at the $100 million Shenzhen complex after the Kowloon zoo closed amid controversy over the ill-treatment of its charges.

RSPCA spokesman Rosana Lai Yuen Chau-heung said she was horrified by the cruelty, but said they were unable to take action over matters in China.

'We have received a lot of angry complaints from Hong Kong tourists and hope the Chinese Government will move to stop this,' she said.

'I felt a sense of horror to learn that they treated small animals in this way. The chickens are still alive - it's very cruel.' One hawker, standing beside a cage crammed with chickens, advertised his wares with a sign reading: 'Excitement and fun - see beasts chasing after small animals.' The hawker said he usually sold 50 chickens a day but could sell up to 100 on Sundays and other holidays. He expected the forthcoming Lunar New Year holidays to be a boom period.

Blood-stained feathers, chicken's feet, and mangled parts of chicken bodies were strewn in the grass-bottomed pit below a tourist footbridge.

Some adults laughed as the big cats teased and then devoured the chickens . . . but their children screamed in fear.

Deng Ling, seven, who visited the park with her parents last week, cowered behind the crowd, covering her eyes with her hands.

'I dare not open my eyes. I'm scared to see blood. And I love chickens better than tigers and lions,' she said.

Mrs Lai said the RSPCA was supporting the International Fund for Animal Welfare's investigation into the mistreatment of animals at the Shenzhen park.

'It's out of our jurisdiction so we can't do anything about it, but we hope the Chinese authorities will do something to stop this practice,' she said.

'We will support any action taken by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.' A spokesman for the Hong Kong branch of the World Wide Fund, Kent Chu Wing-hing, said the practice was cruel and barbaric.