Park losing golden opportunity
MR Leung's letter of November 26, in the South China Morning Post, states ''that there are many parks all over the world which are much more poorly run than this one in Shenzhen''.
He is absolutely right - but the sad reality is that many of them are to be found in China itself. The criticism of the Shenzhen Safari Park was intended to emphasise the horror and disappointment when it was discovered that the administrators had turneda promised and publicised ''natural environment'' into a cruel circus. Their brochure boasts that ''everyone will feel the experience of wildness and being returned to nature''.
To my knowledge, nature has never extended to dressing bears in skirts and piercing their lips with metal hooks for control, clothing monkeys in jackets and filing the teeth and extracting the claws of lions, tigers and bears.
The aim of this recent protest by animal welfare groups and members of the public was to stress the point that the administrators were losing a golden opportunity to show an innovation rarely seen towards keeping animals in captivity and to prove that China was, at last, truly committed towards a positive protection programme.
The location, space, facilities and international expert knowledge was present at the inception and could now still be implemented. Many of the enclosures display relaxed and well nourished animals roaming across an adequate terrain. This example is a valuable educational tool for many of the local visitors who may wish to learn of an animal's natural behaviour and habitat.
However, there is no educational value in viewing the sickly, crippled, domestic dogs and cats housed in featureless concrete cages or to see Asiatic black bear cubs displaying repetitive head weaving patterns, associated with madness through confinement. Encouraging members of the public to buy, then hurl, live chickens into the lion and tiger enclosures teaches nothing but cruelty and disrespect. Placing many of the cages a couple of feet away from the general public only encourages onlookers to poke rubbish through the bars - educating them as to how easily a monkey can choke on a plastic bag.
Many of the improvements could be implemented with little cost and inconvenience and animal welfare groups would welcome the opportunity of endorsing a sanctuary in China which is truly committed to the welfare of all its inhabitants.
JILL ROBINSON Asia Representative International Fund for Animal Welfare