Zoo de­nies vi­ral video re­veals abused tiger

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By YANG JUN in Guiyang and HOU LIQIANG in Bei­jing

A pri­vate zoo on Thurs­day dis­missed al­le­ga­tions that a tiger shown in a video that went vi­ral was abused.

Videos show­ing a keeper pulling a tiger’s tail and sit­ting on him at an an­i­mal park in Xi­uwen county, about 30 kilo­me­ters from the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal of Guiyang, Guizhou prov­ince, have been re­posted by me­dia out­lets and in­di­vid­u­als on Sina Weibo and WeChat.

One of the videos starts with a keeper pulling a tiger’s tail. The keeper then walks be­hind the an­i­mal sev­eral times around a small ar­ti­fi­cial hill. The keeper was also shown sit­ting on the tiger’s back and pulling its ears.

A red line on the body of one tiger later aroused sus­pi­cion that the tiger was in­jured by the keeper. Some ne­ti­zens also said they saw no teeth in the tiger’s mouth.

“The video is clipped from a live-stream­ing video done three months ago. They were in a train­ing ses­sion,” said Wang Shulin, man­ager of the zoo. “It didn’t re­ceive much at­ten­tion when the live stream­ing was be­ing done. I don’t know why it sud­denly went vi­ral.”

The zoo, which was es­tab­lished in 2006, has 30 tigers.

Yao Shim­ing, the keeper seen in the video, has been with the 2-year-old tiger since it was a cub and “it’s com­mon that they play in that way”, Wang said, adding that they “didn’t in­ter­fere with the live stream­ing” done by em­ploy­ees.

“I spent at least one hour and, at most, four hours a day with the tiger for more than two years. It some­times bites me for fun, but never in­jures me,” Yao said. “It just con­sid­ers me a tiger and we have a very good re­la­tion­ship.

“I asked my col­league to take the video and I only wanted to share that in my WeChat. Oth­ers are afraid of the an­i­mal, but I can play with it.”

Ren Yuewu, di­rec­tor of Xi­uwen’s eco­log­i­cal civ­i­liza­tion depart­ment, said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by po­lice found no ev­i­dence that the keeper had abused the an­i­mal.

“The red line on the tiger was not blood, but red paint, and there is no prob­lem with the tiger’s teeth,” Ren said.

How­ever, su­per­vi­sion of the zoo will be strength­ened, while keep­ers’ be­hav­ior will be reg­u­lated to avoid fu­ture mis­un­der­stand­ings, he added.

Con­tact the writ­ers at houliqiang@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

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