Tuesday, May 22, 2007

And to think that I refer to them as baby seal clubbers

From Sky News:

China's Zoos: 'Asylums For Animals'
By Peter Sharp,
China Correspondent
Updated: 17:57, Tuesday May 22, 2007

China's zoos have been described as "insane asylums for animals" and a national disgrace, where live domestic pets are fed to lions and tigers for the entertainment of visitors....

[A] trip round the Harbin Wildlife Park in Northern China ends with a gruesome spectacle.

The world's biggest breeding centre for Siberian tigers encourages visitors to buy domestic animals that will be fed live to the tigers.

Special vending flaps are fitted on the tourist buses to allow visitors to feed chickens to the waiting tigers.

A live chicken can be purchased for £2.60, while a cow costs £100.

The authorities at the park say the tigers are being trained to be released back into the wild and argue that the fees charged for the live animals are used to support the park.

But Dr [John] Wederburn has described the practice as "medieval", while the World Society for the Protection of Animals also condemned it.

Bel was thinking about this:

[I]t is easy to see what upsets the campaigners. However some might argue as follows: almost every weekend, there is some wildlife documentary on television in which animals (in their natural habitat, it must be said) are filmed attacking and killing their prey. This is also entertainment, but in what we no doubt think is a sanitised form. We are watching it in our sitting rooms, as opposed to going to the zoo to do so. And in addition, there is an educated voice in the background giving us such revealing gems as ‘the tiger circles his prey for the last time.’ Yes, this is entertainment, the civilised way.

There follows a story about something that used to happen in Africa when Bel was growing up:

In one particular town, the lion was fed only on Saturdays. The meal never changed; one live goat. The time also never changed; midday. Eleven thirty on Saturdays therefore found the local (and also some expat) children and their parents waiting at the zoo gates for their weekly entertainment. And the lion never failed to disappoint. As for the goat, well, no one spared much thought for it, reason being that it would have been killed and eaten, anyway, whether or not by the lion.

But THAT wasn't the animal abuse. THIS was the abuse:

What happened to the lion in the end? Oh, it eventually died of starvation. As is the way with many African towns, poverty began to bite, and the zoo attendants began to baulk at feeding a whole goat to a lion when they themselves had very little to eat. At first the weekly entertainment was cancelled, as the lion began to receive only portions of the goat - the rest being diverted away by the attendants. Soon, even that was too much, and the lion stopped getting anything at all. Before long, the lion was dead, and by some bitter irony, its cage was occupied by two goats, so frail and advanced in years, that nobody had the heart to kill.

P.S. For those unfamiliar with my use of the term "baby seal clubber" to refer to conservatives (I refer to liberals as "Communists"), see this Dave Barry quote. (Related fallout here and here.)


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