After footage of a bear being kicked by a trainer during a performance at the Fujian Zoo in southeastern Fuzhou city on May 14th, 2017, the zoo has suspended all animal performances, as well as the trainer in the horrific video. The footage has attracted widespread attention online and now national press in China is picking up the story, creating a nation-wide debate on captive animals used in performances. With the Chinese public understandably outraged, the zoo has been trying to find an excuse for the footage. But the public knows the truth: there is no excuse for animal abuse.
In the video, a juvenile moon bear is seen being forced to walk on two legs and jump over barriers, all while being aggressively pulled with a chain around his neck by a trainer. This is completely inexcusable and sadly, all too common.
The bear stumbles and knocks the obstacles down and then the trainer kicks the bear in the groin. According to Animals Asia, since being uploaded to Chinese social media on May 15th, 2017, the footage has been viewed nearly 10 million times, with thousands of angry comments.
According to one witness, the trainer kicked the bear around four times, while the audience pleaded with him to stop. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult for China’s animal circuses to hide the cruel reality of their trade from the public. As awareness increases, Chinese people are speaking up and being heard,” noted Dave Neale, Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director.
Although the Chinese government issued a directive in 2011 banning animal performances, animals performances remain common at facilities across the country nearly six years later. An Animals Asia investigation into animal performance in China’s zoos revealed that as of 2016, 39.1 percent of zoos and safari parks, nearly 100 of those surveyed, had failed to fall in line with the legislation.
Public opinion has already led to Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus announcing they will be shutting down, so if this footage upsets you: share it! The more people who are made aware of the cruelty behind zoos and other places that hold animals captive, the better.
Instead of supporting places where animals are held captive, there are other wonderful ways to experience wild animals such as scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, and bird watching. If you’re not sure where to get started, find a national park near you.
Ultimately, animals do not belong in cages, or behind concrete walls. No matter how brightly a wall is painted, or how large a cage is, a zoo environment cannot compare to an animal’s wild habitat.
Image source: Animals Asia