Crocodiles starving to death at zoo

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 12:00am

Nearly 400 crocodiles are starving to death at a zoo in Fujian province because operators cannot afford to feed them.

More than 300 crocodiles have already died at the Fuzhou Crocodile Zoo in the past five years, either from starvation or sickness, according to the management.

The zoo was set up as a joint venture in 1998 by a Hong Kong company and the local forestry bureau. They bought around 700 crocodiles from Thailand, but the Hong Kong company pulled out soon after the zoo opened. The zoo has been in financial trouble ever since.

Fang Jianqing, from the Fuzhou Forestry Bureau, said they were worried about the crocodiles. Keepers feed the crocodiles chickens, but the tight budget has forced them to give the creatures smaller amounts of food and their appetites have shrunk, Ms Fang said.

Zhang Li, the China representative of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said that the zookeepers' behaviour amounted to brutality.