China responds to tiger welfare concerns at breeding stations

The Siberian Tiger Park in China’s Heilongjiang province is the largest Siberian tiger breeding project in the world. It’s also a popular visitor attraction and having a picture taken with one of the tiger cubs is a popular activity.

Now following a complaint over the possible welfare of the cubs being used for the photography sessions the provincial government and wildlife departments are set to ban the practice.

The ban follows a complaint by local resident named Li. He complained to authorities stating that the tigers cubs where not happy with being handled. His complaint struck a cord with the authorities who decided that the attraction did not meet relevant regulations and constant handling by humans was not good for disease prevention.

The cubs cried miserably, and that’s so pitiful,” said Li, adding that the cubs would hide behind the tree after being photographed. “Obviously, they aren’t willing to do this.

The activity doesn’t abide relevant regulation, and is not conducive to conducting epidemic prevention for the cubs,” said Tao Jin, director of wildlife conservation and nature reserve management bureau of the forestry department of Heilongjiang.

Not everyone is happy with the prospect of losing a profitable activity within the tiger parks. At a cost of £16 per photograph they claim that the practice is an important source of income for breeding centres and zoos which are often underfunded.