China – animal rights and wrongs May 22, 2007Posted by Rambling Man in World Affairs.
I was quite shocked this morning to see a Sky news report on the disgraceful treatment of animals in some Chinese zoos. The report (and we were adequately warned) was quite graphic and showed the Chinese visitors and zoo keepers alike delighting in the live animal baiting where several huge Siberian tigers lazily attacked their live prey.
Picture the scene – at least 6 lazy and overweight tigers, fat from not having to run for their food suddenly perk up when they see the blue van roll into view. The van has to move through a circle of Chinese buses, crammed with camcorder toting tourists. They are as eager as the tigers – they can smell a kill. The trap door on the van pops open and a live cow pops out, looking dazed and confused. It is short-lived as two of the tigers pounce on it dragging it to the ground with two more jumping on its back as it tries in vain to run away. The crowd cheers and the cow moans its last breath, as excited fathers show their sons what life in the wild is really like …
The buses circle further, vending live poultry and small animals through openings in the side. The tigers chase the buses knowing that more food is on it’s way. One Chinese man, eager to show his new found spending power, pays the $10 to throw a live duck out the window to a waiting cat. Squeals of nervous excitement fill the air; squeals of death emanate from the bird – the women are impressed, the men brave.
The report cuts to Sky’s man on the bus – shocked as much by what he has seen outside as by the crazy, bloodthirsty attitude on the buses. The zoo keepers stop briefly to attach the still kicking carcass of the cow to a rope and hitch the rope to their truck. They speed off with the tigers in pursuit, honing their latent and long forgotten skills trying to paw meat from rope. Later we see a monkey so institutionalised that he continuously beats his head off a nearby tree. And a tigress who repeatedly walks up and down her cage all day long to relieve the deadening boredom … I could go on …
I was sickened. But also realistic. This is obviously perfectly acceptable in China and people pay good money to see it. What is acceptable to you and me, may not (and often is not) to him and her. And vice versa. What maddened me was the joy the parents took in pointing out the cow’s last desperate moments to their chattering children. “Look honey, did you see how that brave tiger tore the flesh from that silly cow’s neck with his teeth ?” Meanwhile the cow bleeds to death while other animals tear at its hind quarters. More cheering. A family day out, Beijing style.
If this is modern China, then you can have it. You have to know you have a problem before you can solve it and what country will be the first to say it to them ? What would the reaction be ?