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Lions starve to death at bankrupt China zoo
26 May 2005 04:39:59 GMT

Source: Reuters

BEIJING, May 26 (Reuters) - A bankrupt zoo in central China has watched helplessly as dozens of its animals, including at least eight lions and 12 ostriches, have starved to death, domestic media said on Thursday.

Zoos have sprung up across China in the past decade to meet a growing appetite for entertainment among increasingly affluent Chinese, but many provide wretched conditions, inept management and cannot draw enough visitors to cover their costs.

The zoo in Xiantao, Hubei province, did not earn enough from ticket sales to buy even basic food supplies, the Hubei-based Chutian Metropolis Daily said.

One wolf, two deer and two camels had also died in the past 17 months, it said.

"Because we don't have the necessary maintenance techniques, experience and funds, we can only sit by and watch all these animals die," the zoo owner was quoted as saying.

Animal rights activists have criticised the state of China's zoos and the mistreatment of wild animals captured for their fur, or in the case of bears, for the healing power of their bile.

The zoo had more than 500 animals when it opened in October 2003, but only three lions, one tiger and some other animals were still there, the paper said without elaborating.

While other zoos in China have come under fire for publicly feeding their large cats live animals such as horses, the beasts at the Xiantao zoo had to live on little more than cheap chicken carcasses, it said.

Badly corroding bars at the zoo also posed a "serious hidden danger", because they could weaken to the point that the starving carnivores could break out, it said.

"We don't know what we would do if the lions and tiger escaped," the zoo owner said.

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