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China’s Interactive Zoos: Come Pelt Lions With Snowballs

We’ve reported on the behavior of visitors in Chinese zoos on numerous occasions — from feeding garbage to monkeys in the Nanjing Zoo to giving cigarettes to macaque and baboons in the Taizhou Zoo — but it is our impression that the photos that surfaced on China’s social media networks of a mob of men pelting lions with snowballs in the Hangzhou [...]

lion-being-hit-with-snowball
We’ve reported on the behavior of visitors in Chinese zoos on numerous occasions — from feeding garbage to monkeys in the Nanjing Zoo to giving cigarettes to macaque and baboons in the Taizhou Zoo — but it is our impression that the photos that surfaced on China’s social media networks of a mob of men pelting lions with snowballs in the Hangzhou Zoo tops them all.

Originally from Netease, translated by Chinasmack:

January 5 afternoon, at the Hangzhou Zoo lion exhibit, as soon as a group of visitors spotted the African Lions, they began to make snowballs. The lions felt something was amiss. The lioness swiftly hid under a wooden plank, and the male lion used a tree trunk as cover, with both eyes fixed on the visitors. “WHOOSH”, a young person threw a snowball at the African lions. The lions immediately dodged it, the snowball missing, but the visitor laughed loudly all the same. Some other visitors and children began to follow suit, throwing snowballs at the lions. One of them used large chunks of snow and threw them down with all of his strength. The lioness was freaked out, made a wide circle around, and hid together with the male lion tightly in a corner. In the end, just as those visitors left “in content”, the male lion gave out a fierce roar, his eyes fixed hard on their backs as they left. Walking around the zoo, people were seen attacking animals with snowballs at the alpaca Barn, monkey, giraffe, small animals, tiger, etc. exhibits. A netizen commented: “If the lions weren’t locked in a cage, would the visitors still dare to attack them?”

lions-throwing-snoball

coming42 [网易上海市网友]:

With our countrymen’s characters so low, even if we had democracy, what use would it be? Once people’s characters are high, the appropriate system [of government] will form itself naturally. A democracy without education and cultivation to prop it up is only the tyranny of the many over the few. If those who endorse anti-character theory died out, then there might be hope for China.

孤独侠客的马甲 [网易北京市网友]:

This is not something caused by amount of education, but clearly the lack of morals. The notion of a so-called ancient country of thousands of years of civilization, a country of etiquette and manners, is becoming more and more pale and wan these days.

腾讯北海市网友 兲鈊:

In the eyes of the lions, those who attacked them are inhuman, and if lions are beasts, then those people are worse than beasts.

chinese-snowball-fight

lions-snowballs-china

What do you have to say about this? Is this the act of some rogue individuals or a pattern of the culture?

Filed under: Animals, China

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3413 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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5 comments… add one

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  • ASN January 20, 2013, 9:00 pm

    Wade, how could there not be any comments here. This is very disturbing. I hope someone’s were fined, punished and banned from zoo forever.

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    • Vagabond Journey January 20, 2013, 10:33 pm

      @ASN You should check out the other articles I linked to from this one. From what I can tell, that’s just the way many visitors act in Chinese zoos. But you’re right, this behavior is the fault of the zoo’s management. If you go to the Beijing zoo you won’t really see things like this happen because there are people employed to stop it. There seems to be a major cultural shift in China in terms of the treatment of animals, and this type of behavior is becoming more and more unacceptable.

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  • yuhum_yuhum January 21, 2013, 4:40 am

    oh my 🙁 what kind of fun do they get from that. poor lions. 🙁

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    • Vagabond Journey January 22, 2013, 12:59 am

      @yuhum_yuhum I have no idea. What’s interesting is that this behavior isn’t the exception but is completely normal in Chinese zoos. I once joked in another post that you don’t go to zoos here to watch the animals but to watch the people.

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  • melvs January 22, 2013, 7:17 am

    i hope these scumbags be put on the cages instead of the animals… and be pelted with snowballs as well. these animals doesn’t deserve such a cruel treatment.

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