2007-12-24 07:34:00 Xinhua English
YICHANG -- The remains of two baby tigers were found in a refrigerator in the ticket office of a zoo in central China's Hubei Province, where another tiger was found dead four days ago, said a spokesman of the local forestry bureau on Monday.
The spokesman, Cao Guangyi at the Yichang Forestry Bureau, said that a female Bengal tiger had a difficult labor on November 28 and gave birth to two dead cubs at the Three Gorges Forest Wild Animal World. The zoo keepers put the remains into a refrigerator for better preservation.
According to China's law on wildlife protection, zoos should get local authorities' approval before disposing of the bodies of deceased wild animals, said Cao. But the zoo keepers did not report the deaths until the bureau started to investigate the matter on December 22.
Cao said the zoo should have reported the deaths to the forestry bureau and then disposed of the bodies in accordance with the bureau's decision.
"The bureau has ordered the zoo to shape up its management and make the the laws and regulations on wildlife protection better understood among the employees," said Cao.
On the morning of December 20, a female Siberian tiger, between six and seven years old, was found dead with its head, legs and skin missing.
Siberian tigers, among the world's 10 most endangered species, mostly live in northeast China and the Russian Far East. Of the 400 estimated to live in the wild, only 10 to 17 live in China.
Under Chinese law, killers of endangered and rare wild animals face a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Forestry police are still investigating the case.
Covering about 40 hectares, the Three Gorges Forest Wild Animal World, some 14 kilometers from the city center, opened to visitors in 2002. It is home to more than 100 species of wild animals including 15 tigers, five bears, six African lions, two wolves, 60 monkeys and some birds.
Only five employees work there in charge of breeding, management and selling tickets.
"The zoo is losing money," said Wang Jiangxiang, a keeper at the zoo. "Since this month, we have had only 20 visitors."