China is saying "lights out" for all animal shows at its 300 state-owned zoos, telling zoos that they can either stop abusing animals or be shut down. The circus act ban—which China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development passed in September 2010, earning it PETA Asia's Advancement in Animal Welfare Award—officially goes into effect this week, and already two zoos have shut down their circuses. Some of the cruel stunts used in these shows featured lions standing on horses' backs, bears walking tightropes, monkeys fighting each other, and live animals being fed to predators.
Banning these cruel shows could lead to improved conditions for other zoo animals as well. Last year, an investigation by the State Forestry Administration (SFA) revealed "more than 50 zoos where animals were suffering severely because of abuse." The SFA also received a PETA Asia Advancement in Animal Welfare Award for its investigation and the ban that it imposed in July 2010 on cruel circus acts.
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Chinese zoos had defended the circus acts, saying that they made the animals "stars." But we're pretty certain there's not an animal out there who would prefer being beaten and forced to perform stupid, dangerous tricks to relaxing and playing with his or her family.
PETA Asia has been sending undercover investigators to zoos across China since July 2010 in order to monitor the zoos' compliance with the new policies, and the group is reporting violations to authorities.
Written by Michelle Sherrow