Advocates urge harsh punishment for ‘liger’ breeder
Taipei, Aug 16 (CNA) An animal rights group on Monday called for the immediate seizure of two newborn ligers — a hybrid of a tiger and lion — from a private zoo in Tainan County, saying the operator should be severely punished for illegally cross-breeding two different species of protected animals.
Environmental and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) said Huang Kuo-nan, the owner of an educational farm, violated the Wildlife Conservation Law by allowing two types of protected animals to mate.
The group is urging the government to mete out harsh punishment on Huang, known as the “snake king, ” to deter others from copying the behavior.
On Sunday, a six year-old tigress gave birth to three ligers but only two survived, according to Huang.
Kuo Yi-pin, the head of the Tainan County Government Agricultural Department, said tigers and lions are protected animals and therefore, it is illegal to artificially cross-breed the two.
The county officials are scheduled to visit the farm and will slap Huang with a NT$50,000 fine and confiscate the cubs if any legal discrepancies are found, he said.
“Cross-breeding two protected species is completely against nature. We are urging the Council of Agriculture (COA) to seize the two cubs immediately and bring Huang to real justice. A fine of NT$50,000 is a mere slap on the wrist, ” said Lin Tai-jing, an EAST researcher.
Lin said a light fine of NT$50,000 is “too little to pay to legalize an illegal behavior.”
“It is like paying the government for a permit to breed ligers, ” she argued.
Huang, however, said he did not artificially breed the animals but admitted he has kept a male lion and a tigress in the same space for the last few years, dubbing the two “childhood lovers” and describing the births of the cubs as an “accident.”
Earlier this month, Huang was the target for animal welfare advocates when he was accused of selling live tigers and bears as well as tiger bones and bear paws — both believed to have medicinal properties.
Huang has cried foul over the accusations, saying he runs a legitimate business. Huang was a member of the COA’s wildlife conservation panel from 1995 to 2000 and is currently under investigation for the illegal trade of endangered species.
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