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Animal rights in China

Ponies at Chinese safari park ‘tortured’ in the name of entertainment

  • ‘Living roundabout’ that lets children ride tethered animals for US$4.50 a time slammed by social media users
  • Online outrage follows similar criticism of ride at shopping centre in Sichuan province that was subsequently forced to close
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2019, 5:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2019, 10:31pm

Chinese social media users have expressed their outrage after seeing a video of ponies being “tortured” in the name of entertainment at a safari park in east China.

The footage of six animals walking in circles around a paddock while tethered to a roundabout was too much to take for some users of Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.

“Torturing the horses for entertainment, where is their conscience?” one person wrote. “Aren’t zoos mean to protect animals?”

“This is too much! Horses shouldn’t be humiliated like this,” said another.

According to a report by news website Thepaper.cn, the video was shot at Nantong Forest Safari Park in Jiangsu province.

A worker there was quoted as saying the new attraction was for children only and still in the trial stage.

“We ensured the ponies were healthy and safe before starting this project,” the person said, adding that the aim of the ride was to give children the chance to get acquainted with the animals.

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The report did not say how long the ponies are made to work each day, but said the park charges 30 yuan (US$4.50) per ride, which comprises three laps of the paddock.

“People will do anything for money,” an anonymous Weibo user said.

Bai Xu, who is in charge of animal welfare at the China Horse Industry Association, was more phlegmatic when asked in an interview broadcast by the Beijing Radio and Television Network what he thought about the ride.

“We recommend that they ensure the welfare and health of the horses,” he said.

“If the horses rotate in the same direction over long periods of time, their joints will be affected and so will the balance of their legs.”

An anonymous Weibo user put it another way: “Forcing horses to walk in circles while humans ride them is cruel, and there’s not much point to it. Might as well go to an actual merry-go-round.”

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The online outcry about the so-called living roundabout is the second of its kind in as many months.

In November, a similar attraction at a shopping centre in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan province, was forced to close after internet users vented their spleens.

China has no animal protection laws but the number of welfare groups in the country has been growing.