China’s zoo shuts down over starving animals

Chongqing (China), Feb 27 (IANS) A private zoo in Chongqing in China was ordered to suspend operations after the media reported about the poor living conditions of animals.

The zoo, which housed over 20 animals including a lion, black bear and several monkeys, has attracted vitriol online after photos of malnourished animals cowering in small cages were posted online, People’s Daily said.

In response to public concern over the treatment of the animals, authorities in Fuling district published a notification on China’s Twitter Sina Weibo on February 24 that the zoo had been shut down.

According to Beijing Youth Daily, the zoo was originally established in the 1970s as a privately owned enterprise.

Due to mismanagement and competition from other zoos in the region, the institution has recently faced a shortage of funds, which led to the malnutrition and other issues.

“The monthly income of the zoo is around 8,000 yuan on average. The expense on animals’ food is about 4,000 yuan per month, which is only enough to keep them alive,” said Tan Decai, the owner of the zoo.

According to Tan, food for the bear and the monkeys is a thin mixture of corn and rice while the birds were given rotten vegetables collected from the local market.

Denouncing the public criticism, Tan said the animals were lucky as they only “eat and sleep”.

Local authorities said an investigation into the zoo’s operation had been conducted but revealed no other details.

Private zoos have been castigated by the Chinese public in recent years, as incidents of animal abuse and death emerge from such institutions in a seemingly endless stream.