Asia Life

Man vs. Wild: Tiger Tug-of-War at Chinese Zoo Invokes Ire

Chinese zoo goers have angered animal rights activists by playing tug-of-war with a tiger.

Visitors to Changsha Ecological Zoo in the capital city of the nation’s south-central Hunan province have been given the opportunity to play tug-of-war with a fully grown Amur tiger. To get the tiger’s interest, visitors flung a rope with a live chicken in a burlap bag attached to its other end through a hole into the tiger’s enclosure. In the end, seven tourists lost to a four-year-old tiger. Video of the spectacle can be seen here.

The game was run as a trial last Friday ahead of the National Day holiday that is now underway. The contest has angered netizens and animal rights activists alike, with questions being raised about whether the “game,” in which players pay 45 yuan to hold the rope, breaks national regulations.

The Shanghai Daily wrote: “Many netizens thought the games between human beings and tigers are inappropriate. One netizen worried that a tooth of the tigers might be pulled out.”

Beijing Cream notes that this isn’t the first time a zoo in China has offered guests the chance to face off with one of the most powerful mammals on earth. Last year during the National Day holiday, a zoo in Wuhan, Hubei province, broadcast a televised scene of eight tourists tugging on a rope sans bagged chicken as one massive tiger again came out victorious. The video can be seen here.

In a spectacular effort at media spin, zoo media staffer Yi Ting bizarrely claimed the competition would invigorate the tigers and help keep them from getting sick due to being held captive in the zoo long-term. However, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development passed a law in July that prohibits animal shows at zoos across China. Yi dismissed the claim that playing tug-of-war with tigers can be considered a performance.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

Animal rights activist Guo Geng of Beijing disagreed, calling the activity an “insult to animals.”

This is only the latest shenanigan to hit the news from a Chinese zoo. In August, reports went viral of a Tibetan mastiff that had been put into the lion’s enclosure at a zoo in Henan province while lions had been whisked away to another zoo for breeding purposes.