BEIJING: Hungry tigers and lions have been attacking each other at a Chinese zoo that says it cannot afford to feed them due to a slump in visitors amid SARS fears.
A five-year-old lion was killed and two tigers injured in brawls at the Xiamen Haicang Wild Animal Park in the south-eastern coastal city of Xiamen, said park general manager Liu Huichun.
“Hunger has made the animals irritable and they have returned to the laws of the jungle,” Liu said.
Zoos and other tourism-dependent businesses had been devastated by official efforts to contain the disease by discouraging Chinese from travelling. The public was also anxious after reports that SARS might have originated from animals.
Visitor numbers to the park had fallen to about 10 from a daily average of 500 before the outbreak, forcing cuts in food for the animals, Liu said.
The park has six Siberian tigers, 12 mature African lions and 10 lion cubs. A tiger or lion at the zoo usually eats a daily diet of 5kg of beef, 1kg of chicken bones, two live chickens, eggs and milk powder, Liu said. But these days the animals get 3kg of feed, chicken bones and no eggs or milk.
Deer and sheep were also going hungry due to cutbacks in supplies of grass, he said.
However, the city government was trying to make up the shortages, Liu said. – AP
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