Pizza the polar bear is dubbed the saddest in the world. [Photo/Xinhua]
China's State Forestry Bureau (SFB) made an announcement on Sept 26 regarding the construction of a controversial mall zoo in Guangzhou, stressing that the illegal taming and breeding of wild animals will not be tolerated.
"Heightened public concern regarding the construction of a mall zoo in Guangzhou has presented itself recently. The point of taming and breeding rare and endangered wild animals is to protect them and promote ecological diversity; thus, the illegal and ill-intentioned taming and breeding of wild animals will be punished accordingly," the SFB said in a statement released via its Sina Weibo account on Sept 26.
The statement came after the Guangzhou Grandview Aquarium broadcast its decision to further expand its mall zoo, and take in giant pandas among thousands of other animals. The aquarium has been bombarded with criticism ever since it opened in January in a Guangzhou shopping mall. Animal lovers around the world were infuriated after footage of a polar bear named Pizza living in terrible conditions went viral online in September.
According to a report by Guangzhou Daily, the zoo is planning to establish an 800-square-meter panda exhibition zone, in addition to areas for white tigers, monkeys and other animals.
"Apart from the basic need for food, intelligent animals such as pandas and tigers also have psychological requirements. The small and confined space of a mall zoo cannot ensure an animal's welfare, and may harm animals' mental health," said Hu Hui, a research fellow with the South China Institute of Endangered animals, in an interview with Guangzhou Daily.
"Enclosing animals in small spaces and forcing them to entertain humans is disrespectful to them. Thus, we are against the display of animals with high cognitive ability," Hu added.
The potential expansion of the mall zoo has also led to hot debate around China. Posts with the hashtag "TheSaddestPolarBearOnEarth" have garnered over 62 million page views on Weibo as of press time, with most Chinese netizens expressing opposition to the planned expansion.
"The tragedy of Pizza the polar bear has not yet been solved. More animals will follow in its path and become entertainment for visitors. Such barbaric behavior should be stopped, and the country should establish more specific laws to protect those poor creatures," one netizen commented.
(People's Daily Online)
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