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January 5, 2012

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City zoo accused of mistreatment

VISITORS to the Shanghai Zoo yesterday went online to complain that animals there were mistreated.

Several pictures were published on a local online message board, showing that an injured wolf and a spotted hyena received no medical treatment.

A visitor with a screen name of Jiayi said on KDS, a popular local online forum, that a wolf had an injured paw but no one was taking care of him.

He said he didn't understand why animals living at the zoo would attack each other, as "they are supposed to have adequate food."

Other visitors echoed him. They said they noticed that the left fore paw of the wolf was hurt years ago.

A visitor also said a hyena was hurt on its back, like "it was burned by something."

"The fur on its back was missing, and reddish flesh can be seen," said the visitor. "I wonder whether the care person burned it with hot water or it was hurt by other hyenas."

The visitor also mentioned other animals, such as an arctic fox with an injured eye.

The zoo explained that some of the animals were wounded in their daily life in "natural animal fights," but they had all received proper treatment.

"The limp wolf was not hurt by care workers or by other wolves," said Wang Aishan, an official with the zoo. "The wolf was congenitally disabled."

Wang said at first they considered raising it separately, but as wolves are social animals, they decided it would cause more harm than good to the wolf.

"The limp wolf is never bullied in the wolf group. He has received respect by other wolves in the group," he said.

The hyena was hurt by his partner when they were mating, Wang said.

"The female hyena was rather fierce, and she bit the hurt one," he explained.

"The care workers have applied some iodine for him to sterilize the wound. But maybe the color of iodine is similar to that of its fur, so visitors can't tell one from the other."

Both of Shanghai's zoos have been caught in animal-maltreatment scandals recently.

In September, a circus trainer at the Shanghai Wildlife Park was suspended after he was caught mistreating a black bear that performs at the park.

A video shot by a visitor showed two male trainers cursing, one waving a stick, the other beating the young bear with his fists, and then shoving it to the ground.

In October, visitors found some animal trading at the Shanghai Zoo.

The zoo later explained that the trade was carried out by a pet company renting the zoo's venue for pet exhibition and that it canceled the contract with the pet firm.


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