10 March 2008
In a promotional move that would seem to be tempting fate, Kunming Arts Theatre (ÒÕÊõ¾çÔº) is currently displaying a live tiger and lion in its front lobby, according to a report in Kunming daily Dushi Shibao.
Considering that last year in Kunming a six year-old girl was mauled to death and a four year-old boy sustained serious head injuries in separate tiger attacks, it is surprising that the cats being displayed in the Arts Theatre are in open-top glass cages which are low enough for the tigers inside to reach their paws out of their containers.
The cats, which are only separated from freedom by a 1.4 meter-high glass barrier, have attracted large numbers of visitors, according to the Dushi Shibao report. Their glass containers feature signs warning in Chinese: “Please do not get too close ¨C you will be held responsible for any dangerous aftermath” (ÇëÎð¿¿½üÀÏ»¢£¡Î£ÏÕºó¹û×Ô¸º).
The Dushi Shibao report went on to list six attacks on people by lions and tigers last year across China in the cities of Changde, Nanjing, Ji’nan, Dongguan ¨C and Kunming, the only city with more than one recorded attack.
On January 14 of last year, a five year-old tiger named Lili who was in heat reportedly lost control during a performance at the Yunnan Wild Animal Zoo and pinned a four year-old boy to the ground, inflicting serious but nonlethal lacerations upon the boy’s head.
Five weeks later at the Kunming Zoo on Yuantong Jie, a six year-old girl whose parents were taking her photograph with a tiger ¨C inside the tiger’s cage ¨C was bitten on the head by the tiger when her parents’ camera flashed. The tiger held the girl’s head in its jaws for a full minute before letting go. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene, her parents were later given compensation of 340,000 yuan for their daughter’s death.
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