Live animals thrown to the tigers – for the amusement of the crowd
by NICK MCDERMOTT
These images of a ferocious tiger sinking its four inch teeth into defenceless prey are not digitally created scenes from an upcoming Hollywood blockbuster.
In an all too real display of its savage nature, the orange and black-striped killing machine is seen dispatching live farmyard animals placed in its enclosure by handlers while visitors look on at the feeding frenzy.
The brutal scenes, reminiscent of the bloodthirsty displays in Rome’s colosseum where animals were pitted against one another for the crowd’s amusement, are being played out at a wildlife park in China.
According to officials at Changchung Wildlife Park, staff are training the big cats to kill live prey in order to hone their hunting skills.
But animal rights campaigners questioned the park’s motives and said the practice of feeding goats and calves to caged tigers raised serious welfare concerns.
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: ‘We would question the motives behind feeding live animals to tigers in a non-wild environment. It raises concerns over animal welfare on behalf of the livestock being fed to these tigers.
‘Throwing live animals to caged tigers doesn’t re-create anything that happens in the wild, if that is their aim.’
Tigers are one of the world’s most endangered species, with only 6,000 remaining in the wild. In the past century alone, three sub-species of tiger has become extinct die to illegal hunting and a continued loss of habitat.
China, which has faced fierce criticism over its animal rights record, is under renewed pressure to improve protection after hosting the so-called Animal Olympics in Shanghai this week.
The event, in its fourth year, showcased a boxing bout between an Australian kangaroo and a man dressed in a clown suit. During the fight, the marsupial appears to reel backwards after receiving a right hook from its human opponent.
The kangaroo was just one of 300 ‘athletes’ taking part in the annual event at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park, which also featured an elephant carrying the Olympic torch and various animals – including zebras and mountain goats – put through a series of events such as hurdles and races.
In July, the Daily Mail reported on the barbaric sport of horse fighting where cheering crowds in South West China took bets on which stallion would win a bloody battle.