3 test bravery in tiger enclosure
Feb 9, 2010
BEIJING – THREE Chinese are marking the Year of the Tiger by living among 48 of the big cats in an animal park to raise awareness of an animal that is nearly extinct in China, state media said on Monday.
Li Hang, Que Xiaotian, and Meng Zihui on Sunday began their 73-hour stay in a small cabin at the centre of a tiger enclosure in the wild animal park in the northern province of Shaanxi, Xinhua news agency said.
The trio, aged from 24 to 25, were chosen from more than 650 applicants to ‘test their courage’ by staying in the Qinling Safari Park outside the provincial capital Xian until Wednesday morning. Chinese New Year falls on February 14 this year, when the Lunar calendar enters the Year of the Tiger.
The cabin has ‘no electricity, heating or furniture and is covered only with straw to protect the three from the cold,’ the report said. They will use cameras and computers to record tiger behavior such as how they fight for territory, food, and mates, it said.
Although tigers once ranged across China, they now face extinction in the country due to centuries of poaching and destruction of their natural habitat.
Citing official Chinese figures, conservationists estimate there may be no more than 50 tigers left in the wild in China. Conservations have long blamed demand for tiger body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine as a major factor endangering the great cats. — AFP