Shenyang zoo 'starved tigers to get funds'
A northeastern Chinese zoo, where 11 Siberian tigers died from malnutrition, reportedly starved the endangered animals to obtain financial subsidies from the local government.
A senior employee with the Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo in the capital city of northeast Liaoning province was yesterday quoted by the Nanfang Daily as saying the zoo, which was deeply in debt, mistreated tigers so that it could apply for emergency funds.
The trick seems to have paid off as the city government said it would give the zoo a cash boost of seven million yuan (HK$7.9 million), the paper reported. The employees for the zoo were yesterday finally paid after a 18-month delay.
Also, the zoo manager told Xinhua yesterday that the bodies of Siberian tigers had been frozen for further investigation.
'After they died, we invited vets and experts from Shenyang Agricultural University to conduct an autopsy and report the results to the animal protection authorities,' Wu Xi said. 'The tiger meat, skins and bones are still kept in freezers.'
Previous reports said the tiger bones were used to make a liquor. 'The liquor was used to serve important guests,' a zoo worker was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
It is illegal to sell tiger parts in China but sales continue because of the belief in the aphrodisiac or curative powers of tiger bones, penises and other parts.
Besides the tigers, 22 other animals have died in the zoo including rare species that are protected in China including a red-crowned crane, four stump-tailed macaques, and one brown bear, Xinhua said.
The Shenyang municipal government has a 15 per cent share in the zoo, which is privately owned. The number of animals in the zoo has dropped by half in a decade, from 1,020 of 61 species in 2000 to 518 of 49 species in 2010.
Conditions at the Shenyang zoo are believed to offer a glimpse of the abysmal state of most of zoos in the mainland.
According to state media, 90 per cent are in financial trouble.
China says it has nearly 6,000 tigers in captivity and about 50 to 60 in the wild
There are about this many Siberian tigers in the wild: 20