China Zoo Has Some Explaining To Do After Mass Grave Containing 50 Animal Bodies Found

God, how I hate to report on these types of stories... I don't even know where I get the courage to write about them given how gut-wrenched and in pain I am as I write. It may seem as though I'm preaching to the choir when I share these nightmares with my fellow protectors of and lovers of animals, but awareness breeds change, which is what we're fighting for. The Humane Society of the United States, The World Wildlife Fund... oh, so many of these organizations provide living proof of the power of awareness.

China has a history of disrespect and cruelty towards animals. Plain, simple, factual. My Chinese heritage isn't grounds for keeping my disgust with China's treatment of animals under wraps. No nation is perfect, but I must rant that China warrants a level of fear and loathing in terms of their inhumane treatment of animals. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of thousands of Asians who love and treasure animals just as much as you and I. I speak not of these individuals our brothers and sisters in spirit but in the country and its government as a whole.

Although we know of many, this topic covers what could be one of the most inhumane acts a human can commit against an animal, withholding food and water to the point that the emaciated creature can no longer walk let alone work up the strength to fight back.  That was most likely the case of the fifty animals that were found buried in a mass grave at a state zoo in north-eastern China. A ZOO, mind you!  Of the carcasses found, a number of them were endangered white lions and white tigers.  The normally strong animals were being fed diets of chicken meat and bones and in some case sweet buns.  The beef and lamb that they were accustomed to eating was simply too expensive for the zoos to purchase so they stopped serving it and decided to alter the animals' diet without consulting a zoologist or veterinarian.  The low calorie diets caused the animals to suffer and eventually perish from starvation.

Budget Cuts Means Fewer Supplies

Shedding light on the deplorable conditions commonly found in China, Sky News in Beijing won the coveted 2008 Panda Wildlife Award for its coverage of Chinese zoos and the conditions that their animals were forced to live in.  With 200 zoos located throughout the Asian country, only the larger ones receive aid and attention from the government which leaves the smaller ones susceptible to budget cuts and unfavorable conditions.  Despite having a large number of animals on hand, few zoos would admit there was a problem until now.

Tiger Parts for Medicinal Purposes

Siberian Tigers are often harvested for their body parts.  Thought to have medicinal properties, tiger bones and reproductive organs are used to increase sexual potency and treat certain illnesses.  Chinese traditional medicine is based off of age-old practices that are no longer viewed as ethical.  Many species of tigers are now endangered.

China's Blatant Disregard for Animals

Like dogs and cats, tigers are not typically viewed as sources of food.  Animal rights activists have gone undercover to expose individual acts of animal cruelty in China.  Their bravery has unfortunately come with a consequence.  Dependency on the country for the bulk of our imported goods makes it nearly impossible to buy something that wasn't made in China.  In fact, several large department stores went under fire recently when the faux fur trimming their China-made jackets was found to contain remnants of dog and cat fur.

Standing Up For the Animals

The first step in helping the animals in China lies in educating the public of the extreme acts of cruelty that have become commonplace in cities like Beijing and Shanghai.  The second step would be to refrain from purchasing any items of questionable origin.  If the faux fur that you're sporting looks and feels real, it's likely that it came from an animal source. I've blogged about this topic before.

Last but not least, you can write letters to the Editor of your local newspaper, circulate a petition urging Congress to enforce stricter laws concerning animal welfare, and educate the public about the issues that occur behind their backs.  Having evidence on hand to support your claims gives the animals in question a much better chance of survival.

Thank you, Universe, for an organization like Animals Asia. This Hong Kong Hong Kong-based charity is dedicated to ending cruelty and restoring respect for all animals in Asia. Yes, there ARE animal rights organizations in the Far East, and I commend them for fighting for animal rights in one of the toughest parts of the world to do so.