Children horrified as sea lion bullied by Henan zoo trainer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 July, 2013, 3:23pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

A sea lion was beaten by its trainer during a photography session at a Henan zoo at the weekend, raising concerns about China’s treatment of animals.

The four-year-old creature, a feature attraction in the zoo’s sea animal performances, was set to pose for pictures with visitors when its trainer was seen clubbing the animal after it grew restless on the podium.

Horrified, many children left with their parents, reported the Southern Metropolis Daily on Monday.

“Training a sea lion is like training a dog or cat. It must be strictly trained so that it will obey,” the photographer said.

Every morning, the sea lions are required to pose for hundreds of visitors who pay 20 yuan for a picture.

The incident is the latest in reported animal abuse at zoos this year. A video posted online in May showed a trainer dealing heavy blows to a tiger’s head at a zoo in eastern Zhejiang province. The violence sparked cries for the protection of animal rights and a subsequent public apology by the city government, said the daily.

Earlier this year, several dormant crocodiles in a Shenzhen park were killed by curious tourists who attacked them with stones. 

The central government has taken several measures to stop zoo animal abuse. The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, which administers the country’s city zoos, released a directive this month banning “animal performances of all kinds”. But because it has not been written into law, there is little enforcement, said the Southern Metropolis Daily.