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Performing animals mistreated in China, says report

  • Report into Chinese zoos and safari parks found abuse of perforrming animals
  • Animals Asia campaign group visited 13 parks across the country
  • "Animal cruelty is happening in every country of the world," says David Neale

(CNN) -- Bears riding motorcycles, tigers jumping through flaming hoops and pigs leaping off diving boards. Just some of the "entertainment" that can be seen at circuses, zoos and safari parks in China, according to a report by Animals Asia into animals cruelty.

The Hong Kong-based animal rights campaign group visited 13 safari parks and zoos in China and according to David Neale, Animals Asia's Animal Welfare Director, found that the animal shows "portray the animal to the public in a humiliating way" and have no educational value.

"There is a misunderstanding really within China at the moment about what these animals are experiencing," Neale told CNN.

The report says that many of the performance animals that include tigers, lions, Asiatic black bears, elephants and monkeys are born and bred in captivity and brutalized throughout their lives.

Video: Cruelty to performing animals
These animals have been suffering from birth, really.
--David Neale, Animal Welfare Director, Animals Asia

"These animals have been suffering from birth, really. Once they're born they go into this industry. And straight away the trainers are starting to brutalize them to make them to do these tricks.... We saw some of the training of the younger animals; they were continually hit to make sure they learnt these tricks so that when they're out in the performance ring they perform them to the best standard."

"Once the trick is finished they then go to the backstage area where they're housed in the most shocking conditions. All kinds of animals are held in cages full of faeces, with very little access to water, very little access to food."

The abuse of performing animals isn't specific to China.

"Animal cruelty is happening in every country across the world," said Neale.

However Neale points out that in China there are currently no animal protection laws, a reason why Animals Asia have worked with Chinese academics to draft legislation not just for animals in captivity, but all animals.

Despite the findings of their investigation, Neale is encouraged by a few signs of progress by the Chinese government to take animal protection seriously.

According to a government report on July 29 the Chinese State Forestry Administration accused companies that have animal performance shows of having excessive focus on profits, leading to the mistreatment and death of the animals.

"We're very pleased that the Chinese government has said that they want the zoos and safari parks to look at the conditions they keep their animals in to rectify these problems," said Neale.