A video shot by a visitor in Yangcheng Safari Park, which is located just outside of Shanghai in China shows a horrific scene.
A group of men in raincoats push a donkey down a wooden ramp and into a moat where two tigers pounce on it. The men, who drove up to the enclosure in a truck were not done after they threw in the donkey. Apparently, according to South China Morning Post, they tried to throw a goat in as well, but were stopped by park visitors and security.
A dispute between park officials and park shareholders was behind the incident. The shareholder had arranged for a group of men to take several animals from the zoo and sell them. Park security stopped the men from leaving with the animals so the men went to plan B. They attempted to dump the animals into the tiger enclosure.
According to a statement released by the zoo (in Chinese), the shareholders were angered by a lack of financial returns from the zoo. The investors had put money into the zoo two years ago and were disappointed about the returns after the zoo was involved in a lawsuit and had its assets frozen by a local court. The investors believed that the local court and the zoo were conspiring to deny the investors any money.
“Since we can’t have any benefits, we thought why not feed them to the tigers, at least we can save on animal feed,” one unidentified shareholder told local media.
The video quickly went viral across China and social media pounced on the opportunity, like a tiger pouncing on its prey, to criticize the zoo and it’s shareholders for their behavior. The video does not show the entire encounter. According to reports, the donkey took over a half hour to die.
“It’s a terribly sad video because everything in it is suffering, whether it’s the donkey, whether it’s the tigers, whether it’s the public watching them,” says Doug Cress, chief executive officer at the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Concerns were also raised about how humans could get so close to the tiger enclosure as to have a live animal tossed into it. According to Cress, the zoo is lucky that the donkey was the only one who got set upon by tigers.
Cress continued “If the zoo had the proper barriers between humans and the enclosures, first you couldn’t have gotten the animals out of the enclosure, and second, you couldn’t have tossed them into the tiger enclosure. Clearly the barrier and safeguards aren’t effective at that zoo.”
Concern has been raised over the years about the conditions of zoos across China. Animal cruelty has been suspected at more than one zoo and at some the animals are made to perform for the guests. Other zoos allow visitors to pay to have live chickens or ducks or sometimes cows fed to tigers or lions for the entertainment of the guests.