Circus Bear Outrage
By Mark McConville
LEAKED footage of a young moon bear being roughly treated by handlers at a circus in China has caused outrage online.
A smartphone video shows the juvenile bear being forced out of the performance arena using a metal rod as he desperately struggles to stay where he is.
Footage of the incident, which took place at Qingdao Safari Park in Shandong, was uploaded to Chinese social media website Weibo where it received condemnation from China’s vast online community.
One Weibo user wrote: “Say no to animal performance. How animals are treated reflects our legal system.”
Others called for action as Asiatic black bears are a class two protected species in China.
“We can make a phone call to the local Forestry department to see whether the circus has a license or not,” said one user.
The animal cruelty video also prompted a response from Animal Asia, an organisation working to end the barbaric trade in bear bile.
“The social media reaction we’ve seen to this and other recent incidents is unprecedented and extremely heartening,” said Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale.
“Despite the video not being particularly graphic, Chinese netizens have been outraged, which shows how far advanced concepts of animal welfare have spread.
“Most importantly this outpouring of public opinion has a very real chance of resulting in tangible change. As animal exploitation becomes more vocally opposed it will become increasingly socially unacceptable.
“It goes without saying that Animals Asia is extremely concerned about what is seen in this footage and as part of its Captive Animal Welfare work will continue to raise its voice in their defence as well as thousands more animals suffering similarly within China.”
The Qingdao Safari Park is a state-run facility and their animal performances directly contravene State Forestry directives to end the practice.
After the reaction on Weibo the safari park took to social media to release a statement on the incident.
They claimed a female bear in the same performance was in heat prompting one of the handlers to remove the male bear to avoid an incident.
The park argued the bear wasn’t “beaten” by the handlers but was merely “pushed” with a tool and therefore no “abuse” took place.
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