Animal rights groups are calling for a ban on all animal performances in China, including liveshows, petting zoos and photo sessions. China Daily reports
However, their campaign - which also calls for a ban on dolphin shows - is said by some to havegone too far.
Animal performances and circus shows, especially in Beijing, have ”seriously impaired thecountry’s and city’s image with brutality and savage behavior”, Liu Huili, an animal rights supporterand researcher with Green Beagle, a Beijing-based non-governmental organization, said at asymposium on Saturday.
Attendees at the symposium, including researchers and volunteers from Green Beagle, China ZooWatch and the Beijing Loving Animals Foundation, proposed the performance ban, especially inthe capital city.
China Zoo Watch conducted a study from January 2011 to the end of March, in which it sampledmore than 40 zoos nationwide. It found that animal performances, which it claims often involve actsof cruelty, are common nationwide.
About 50 percent of urban zoos, 91 percent of animal parks and 89 percent of aquariums offersuch performances, according to the survey.
Performances include animal wire walking, jumping through fire loops, standing upside down andboxing, which ”might seriously impair the animals’ physical and psychological health”, Liu said.
In Beijing, the wildlife park in Daxing district offers shows of dogs jumping through fire loops, andanother wildlife park near the Badaling section of the Great Wall features wolves and tigers jumpingacross fiery circles and bears playing with flaming sticks, the survey found.
Both parks declined to comment on the issue when reached by China Daily on Sunday.
Liu Nonglin, a senior engineer of the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, said a zoo shouldbe a demonstration site for animal protection.
Liu said people could also be hurt by many zoo animals or catch diseases. However, he said, atotal ban on animal performances would take time and require public cooperation and a change inattitudes.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development issued a circular in 2010 banning animalperformances nationwide, but the rule does not apply to aquariums.
However, as the circular didn’t specify penalties, animal performances and petting zoos featuringwild animals remain a common practice, said Sun Xiaochun, a ministry official.
“It (the circular) is more of a warning than a regulation,” she said, adding that the ministry mightrevise the rules to impose tougher punishments.
But not everyone agrees with the campaign against animal performances.
Zhou Haipeng, 22, a student at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said he found animalperformances, especially by dolphins, very loving and informative, rather than cruel and mercilessas depicted by the activists.
He said he first went to the Beijing Aquarium in 2008, when he arrived in the capital for study, andwas very impressed.
“The dolphin show was cute,” said the student from South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomousregion. “That was the first time I saw a dolphin in the flesh.”
Zhou said it would be sad if animal performances are banned, especially the dolphin shows.
“People, especially those from inland cities, could see and touch animals and become furtheraware of how to protect them, which is a good thing,” he said. “Jumping a fire loop is toodangerous, but dolphins swimming in the water is not.”
The Beijing Aquarium told China Daily on Sunday that their dolphin training is animal friendly, notbased on punishments.
“We offer animal performances to let the public know how cute they are and how to better protectour (animal) friends.”
There are 24 dolphins at the Beijing Aquarium, all of which appear in the shows, 15 minutes eachand two or three a day, according to their physical condition.
The Beijing Aquarium stopped allowing people to interact with the dolphins, which included allowingchildren to kiss the animals, in 2010.
“There’re no more performances we can call off. All we have left are some simple performances,like jumping and bouncing balls,” the spokeswoman said.
“We’re keeping records of the dolphins’ physical and psychological condition, while providingsufficient nutritious food.
“All the dolphins have been healthy since the aquarium was established 12 years ago,” she added.
- Animal rights groups seek performance ban (preciousjules1985.wordpress.com)
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- Stop Killing Dolphins with Deep Water Sonar (forcechange.com)
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- Dolphin Confidential: A Woman and the Dolphins She Loves (psychologytoday.com)
The Pros and Cons of zoos are many and varied – here’s an example of an advantage which includes ‘Environmental education‘. Mark Kinver, Environment Reporter at BBC online explains
A UK zoo has launched a website that it hopes will help bridge a growing divide between young people and conservation.
It will allow users to find out more about the effort to save species, put questions to staff working around the globe and follow their fieldwork.
Organisers hope it will help establish a network of online conservationists.
The zoo commissioned a poll that showed that 66% of adults felt that 10-year-olds were more interested in technology than wildlife.
The survey of 2,094 adults, conducted by YouGov, also found that 94% of adults felt that biodiversity conservation was important, yet only 15% actively helped a cause.
“The survey is a somewhat depressing summary of the world today,” said Dr Mark Pilgrim, Chester Zoo’s director general.
“While we are playing with games or chatting to our friends online, somewhere in the world at the same time, a rhino is being poached for its horn or a species is facing a battle for survival in its own territory.”
Starting at home
As well as supporting work to protect species such as orangutans, Asian elephants and black rhinos, Act for Wildlife has also included a project called UK Wildlife.
“Although it is not the sort of work people would normally associated with a zoo, we are a UK-based organisation, and we must not forget that conservation also needs to start at home,” explained project manager Michelle Duma.
“It is no good us going out and working on projects in Africa or Asia and getting people to care about their wildlife, if we cannot do that here in the UK.”
Ms Duma told BBC News that a web-based resource was “absolutely the way to go”.
“Not only does it allow our zoo visitors to go online and see what is happening and keep up to date with our projects, but it also means that we can broaden our reach and talk to the whole of the UK and further afield,” she said.
“The projects that Act for Wildlife is supporting are sending us regular updates on what they have been up to, information about themselves. What we are trying to do is for project members to tell their story themselves.”
One example was project members in Assam, India, posting images of their work with local villages to reduce conflicts between people and elephants.
“Then people can ask questions and engage in a conversation,” Ms Duma added. “If they want to know more about a particular thing, they just have to ask.”
- Rhinos are on the rise after surviving war and poachers in Nepal (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Visit an Elephant, Support Conservation (prweb.com)
- Humanity the ‘destroyer’ … but we can fix things, too! (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Brazil’s wildlife and the UK’s response – we have a choice and cannot allow these species to disappear! (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Vietnam’s elephants to be extinct in ten years (lookatvietnam.com)
- Remembering New Zealand saviour of wildlife (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Green: How Sending a Letter Can Help Save Wildlife (green.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Why are Angry Mobs of People Killing Wildlife in India? (bushwarriors.wordpress.com)
- Collective conservation efforts boosted rhino population in Nepal (eurekalert.org)
- A Guide to the Endangered Animal Species (brighthub.com)