Reality of the Harbin Siberian "Tiger Safari" in China
Tiger vs. chicken on the Harbin Siberian tiger safari
Note: Big Cat Rescue opposes such blatant cruelty to animals and has posted this article from 2010 to warn people not to visit the Harbin Siberian Tiger Park. The reporter clearly did not know a refuge from a tiger farm.
At the Harbin Siberian Tiger Park in north-east China visitors get to throw live chickens and other farm animals to tigers
By Dan Ouyang 2 August, 2010
Housed on nearly 400 acres of land, the Harbin Siberian Tiger Park in north-east China is one of the largest tiger refuges in the world. And it offers visitors a highly manufactured but extremely satisfying experience of what happens when large cats feed on lesser animals.
Visitors are loaded into rickety buses and taken on a tour through various sections of the park outfitted with electronic chain link fences “Jurassic Park” style. Throughout the trip, the buses will stop to let you get a good view of the park’s inhabitants. Lax safety standards ensure that a thin layer of mesh and metal is all that divides you from tigers whose heads average the size of your bus’s tire.
For those not satisfied with merely being a spectator, visitors have the unique opportunity to sentence hapless farm creatures — starting at RMB 50 for a chicken and going up to RMB 1,500 for a cow — to becoming tiger feed. It may seem cruel to the farm animals that are unceremoniously dumped out of a food truck into the middle of 10 insatiable Siberian tigers but it certainly makes the tigers very happy and adds quite a bit of excitement to the tour.
While the tigers are obviously quite healthy and happy, the condition of the livestock and a menagerie of caged wild felines ranging from panthers to cheetahs is more questionable. Needless to say, those with a soft spot for livestock, PETA members and/or vegans will most likely not have a good time. For the rest of us with looser morals, it’s pretty damn enjoyable.
Visitors are first herded into a large bus-station like waiting room and asked to wait for their group to be called. Things of interest include a giant fish tank of tiger bone wine (RMB 780 for a flask) as well as a poster showing a pictorial diagram illustrating each step in tiger copulation.
Once your group’s number is called, run like the wind to grab a choice window seat on your bus. The best ones will be next to windows that open allowing for both optimum photo and getting-finger-bitten-off opportunities.
Halfway (20-30 minutes) through your tour, the food truck will arrive. You will know something is up because the tigers in the immediate area become extremely agitated and surround the truck like hungry people at a free buffet.
These aren’t your dinner prices, they’re the tigers’. “Beef” isn’t quite a live animal, but nice of them to include the price none the less.
Watch closely because this is when the livestock you’ve purchased will be jettisoned out straight into the claws of the awaiting tigers.
Oddly polite, once one of the tigers captures the prey, the others all back off and leave the winner to enjoy his spoils. For larger prey, the tigers will politely share.
Between our sheep and our chicken, the chicken put up much more of a fight.
Randomly during the safari cruise, you will see lions. Lions don’t belong in sub-zero temperatures but in China the impossible has been made possible. Despite being far from their native habitat in every sense, the lions seem relatively content. Perhaps they have decided that a steady and easy diet of live animals makes up for the freezing climate.
At the end of the bus tour, visitors are led to a land bridge where entrepreneurial farmers have set up chicken and meat stands for those who want to see more carnage. The chickens sit, sadly clucking in bloody Styrofoam coffins. At Harbin Tiger Park, it’s clear that the joy of the tigers outweighs the rights of the chicken.
You can feed beef to tigers with tongs for a mere RMB 10 per strip.
Alternatively, you can throw chickens yourself off the land bridge. Warning: if you throw the chicken too far it will die upon impact and make the entire situation very anti-climactic.
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