Chinese Zoo Accused of Letting 11 Rare Siberian Tigers Starve to Death

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Chinese Zoo Accused of Letting 11 Rare Siberian Tigers Starve to Death

By Michael Graham Richard on TreeHugger.com

The Food Was Too Expensive...

Sad story of the day: 11 rare and endangered Siberian Tigers starved to death while confined to "cold, cramped metal cages" at the Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo in China's North-East. The deaths took place in the past three months, with reports saying that "the tigers starved to death, having been fed nothing but chicken bones". The food bill for the tigers ran to about $1,320 (9,000 yuan) a day.

The zoo's financial problems are such that it had to take money from staff salary to pay for food, but even that wasn't enough.

We previously wrote about how critically endangered wild tigers are in China, and the only hope seems to be to boost population with captive-bred tigers. But if they are treated like this, hope is slim...

Why even have tigers if you can't feed them? How about selling them to other zoos, or asking for help from the government or conservation groups? Anything but letting them starve in small metal cages please!

The AP writes: "The deaths underscore the conflicting signals in China's attempts to save its dwindling number of tigers. While extensive conservation efforts are under way, animal protection groups say zoos and wildlife parts may be deliberately breeding more animals than they can afford, hoping to sell off the carcasses onto a black market where tiger parts fetch a high price for use in traditional medicines and liquor.

"We've seen cases where tiger farms have steeped the bones from their deceased tigers in liquor to sell to visitors," said Hua Ning, project director for the China branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare."

30 tigers now remain at the Shenyang zoo, but some remain at risk of illness.