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May 9, 2013

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Park back with animal act despite uproar

IT was business as usual at the Shanghai Wildlife Park yesterday after days of uproar over the abuse of animals and their exploitation for commercial and entertainment purposes.

During a Sunday afternoon show at the park, a bear and a monkey were involved in a violent attack that was caught on video and had netizens and activists demanding an end to animal abuse.

The simian was riding a bicycle when it lost its balance and fell. The bear which was close behind on another cycle stumbled on the monkey and fell too. The enraged bear attacked the monkey as zoo keepers, alarmed by the ferocity of the attack, tried to separate them. The bear appeared to bite the monkey and refused to let it go for about 30 seconds with their attendants pounding the large animal with sticks.

Angry netizens and animal rights organizations criticized the park, but legally there was little they could do.

Yesterday, the park said the simian had survived the attack and carried on with his act.

Ni Li, a park official, said none of the animals were injured. Ni insisted that the bear just pressed the monkey down on the floor and they were pacified by their keepers.

Ni said the bear was also wearing an anti-biting muzzle and so did not actually hurt the monkey.

The bear was just enraged by fall, Ni said, adding that the zoo would take protective measures, such as adding air cushions, to avoid a repeat in the future.

The bear was under anesthesia yesterday as the zoo staff cut its nails but the monkey was back in the ring for his act.

The video of the attack, posted on a microblog, triggered angry reactions from netizens who criticized the park for staging cruel animal shows.

One Weibo user identified as "cuipi_jin" said animals should not be trained for performances. "There should be a law to protect the rights of animals," he said.

Another netizen "xiaoaimuV" said performances by animals should be banned in China.

Animal protection organizations also condemned the staging of the show.

"The performance mistreats animals in disguised form," said Dr Sun Quanhui of World Society for the Protection of Animals, an international non-profit animal welfare organization. "Animals reacts aggressively when they are tensed up or scared, he said.

There are regulations stipulating that zoos should not host animal performances but there is no law or punishment against it. The organization has urged the public to avoid such performances.

The Shanghai Wildlife Park has been criticized before for staging animal "Olympics." It has been slammed as "animal abuse."

Such activities usually involve punitive measures during training such as holding back food, and many animals die or suffer from injuries during training.

The injuries can last up to a year, Sun claimed.


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