Wildlife park under fire for dead cubs found in freezers

Beijing: A wildlife park in east China is being investigated following accusations that 20 Siberian tigers had died in the past five years due to harsh living conditions, with some cubs found stored in freezers, Chinese media reported.

The tigers, listed as first-level protected animals in the country, were among two African lions, three giraffes and several macaques to die from unnatural causes at the park, reported news outlet Sixth Tone.

The probe comes after a magazine owned by state-run China News Service said on May 13 that Fuyang Wildlife Park allowed multiple animals to die due to neglect, The Paper reported.

The private zoo was also accused of illegally breeding protected species, unlicensed sale of animals and keeping them in harsh conditions.

A spokesman for the Forestry Bureau of Yingdong district of Fuyang City told local media that the alleged inbreeding of the tigers could have led to poor genetic quality and spread of diseases.

Local media reported that other animals were kept in small iron cages, with one bear unable to walk after it was confined.

Another cold storage facility contained the dead bodies of adult tigers, lions, giraffes and bears.

The report also cited a management dispute in the park, which led animals to die of hunger and thirst after water and electricity at the facility was cut off.

Executive director of Beijing Yipai Law Firm’s public welfare legal centre Li Enze told local media that if the wildlife park has been “keeping national first-class protected wildlife in cages for a long time without providing them with space to exercise, it constitutes abusive behaviour and could be deemed illegal”.

According to Sixth Tone, the park applied for licences to breed Siberian tigers multiple times in the past but was rejected as it lacked adequate facilities.

Following the accusations, the park said on Weibo that it would be closed from May 13 to 15 due to hot weather and upgrading. — The Straits Times/ANN

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