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September 9, 2011

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Trainer who beat Wildlife Park bear suspended

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

Veterinarians examined the black bear, which did not suffer serious physical injuries, park officials said.

A netizen shot a short video of the bear being beaten and posted it on the Internet this week.

The video shows two male trainers cursing, one waving a stick, the other beating the young bear with his fists, and then shoving it to the ground.

The bear is moaning and screaming in pain during the whole process. When noticing that someone was shooting a video, one of the trainers dragged the bear by its neck chain to its lair and threw the stick at the video shooters.

Park officials said they were shocked by the trainer's behavior.

Officials said he was not a staff member with the park, but was with a circus team from neighboring Anhui Province, which provides shows to visitors under contract with the park. The bear was also brought by the circus team.

"The group is qualified with a business license," said Luo Danhong, an official with the park. "But the trainer broke the rules of the park, so he must receive punishment. We don't allow trainers to treat animals violently."

Officials said although they allow circus performances in the park, the basic concept is to let the animals "do some sports" to keep fit.

Now the park is inspecting the entire circus team, and vets are giving physical exams to all the bears with the team.

The park previously was caught in an animal-abuse scandal. In 2006, the park held an "animal Olympics," featuring sports competition between animals, or animals and people.

A brutal boxing match between a man and a kangaroo shocked people. Amid animal activists' protests, the park suspended the event.

Late last year, the country's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development banned all animal performances at zoos and wildlife parks.

But the park went on with the show anyway, and claimed that the circus performances were permitted by the authorities.

Shanghai greenery authorities, who are in charge of zoos and parks, confirmed the park's statement.


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