As soon as Animals Asia received word of the disgusting Animal Olympics held in the Shanghai Wild Animal Park, AAF Executive Director, Annie Mather, immediately flew to Shanghai to investigate and document the appalling treatment.
The park is one of many such parks throughout China, which invent unusual and invariably cruel ways to attract more visitors. Normally empty during the week, they take the opportunity to increase revenue at weekends and public holidays, such as China's "Golden Week" holiday in early October. Shows like the "Animal Olympics" are an added attraction and tour buses filled with visitors looking for thrills pour in from provinces across China.
AAF documented several shows which incorporated cheetahs, lions, tigers, bears, macaques, poodles, a Golden Monkey, a chimpanzee, a zebra, a llama and an elephant performing various inane tricks to blaring pop music. Juvenile Moon Bears were forced to box each other violently in front of a screaming crowd and signs advertised kangaroo boxing. One can only imagine the constant stress and fear that all of these wild animals live under, not to mention the undoubtedly barbaric training methods that take place behind closed doors.
A popular source of revenue is the opportunity to have your photo taken with a wild animal for RMB10 – 20 (US$1.25 - 2.50). Animals included cheetahs, tigers, lion cubs, Brown Bears and Moon Bears, poodles, a Golden Monkey, a chimpanzee, a camel and an elephant (i.e. many of the same animals that also took part in the shows). The animals were cruelly chained up and often their mouths wired shut. Many were also barbarically declawed. Despite the park's efforts to control the animals, these photo taking opportunities are potentially very dangerous, as evidenced by the continual growling by the Brown Bear dressed in a blue sailor's suit. Annie also witnessed a Golden Monkey escape into the crowd during one of the shows.
All of the animals witnessed were in an inappropriate environment, unable to express even the most basic natural behaviour and under constant stress. The Moon Bears were forced to stand all day and clap their hands continuously and one poor blind Moon Bear was repeatedly jabbed with a metal stick every time he moved. As with many of the animals in the park, his spirit was completely broken.
With no legislation to protect wild or domestic animals in China, parks such as these continue to exploit animals for financial gain. Until there are laws there is little action that can be taken.