Twenty tigers found in zoo freezer

Twenty Siberian tigers died in poor conditions in Fuyang zoo, Anhui province, between 2019 and 2023, China Philanthropist reported on 13 May after an investigation.

Sixteen Siberian tigers are still alive but have been kept in small outdoor cages for years. Other tigers and lions are in rooms without natural light. Asian black bears have also been confined in small cages, becoming bald due to friction against the bars, China Philanthropist found.

Fewer than 500 wild Siberian tigers survive in north-east Russia and China, according to the latest evaluation by the IUCN. In China, where the animal has the highest (first-class) national protection, the number stood at around 60 last year. 

Raising and breeding Siberian tigers requires approval from the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), a zoo expert told The Paper. Although the NFGA found in 2018 that Fuyang zoo lacked adequate facilities for artificial breeding, the owners imported 25 Siberian tigers the following year and began breeding illegally.

Tigers were not the only victims at the zoo. At least two lions, three giraffes and several macaques also died between 2019 and 2023, and their bodies were found in a small freezing room.

An anonymous person in charge of raising animals for the zoo told Beijing Youth that the main cause of these deaths was poor living conditions. Though the person communicated the problem to the zoo, the situation did not improve.

The zoo has been closed temporarily since China Philanthropist’s report was published. The local government has established a panel to investigate the deaths thoroughly, Beijing Youth added.
Some experts pointed out that while the wildlife protection law can safeguard wild animals, it can’t prevent harm within zoos. They have called for China to establish an animal welfare law to protect animals living in zoos, labs, farms and homes.

Read Dialogue Earth’s 2017 report on China’s tiger farm issues.