Having your photo taken with a tiger does absolutely nothing for tigers and in fact does exactly the opposite. It sets an extremely bad example to bad zoos elsewhere. It encourages them to pull young from their mothers, to factory farm them for photography sessions. It makes what the Tiger Temple and its ilk are doing seem as though what they are doing is right.
The uneducated imitate.
Zoos which purport to care about animals and conservation need to set an example NOW to the rest of the world. They need to stop posing and touching sessions. What they are doing is NOT clever. It really does hurt tigers in every other little tin pot crappy excuse for a zoo. 2010 is not the year of the tiger.
With the Year of the Tiger finally here, its symbol – a fierce tiger – has become a hot topic.
Children's clothes are all printed with tiger patterns, and house gates are decorated with tiger figurines. A bestseller in supermarkets is tiger mascots.
Beyond that, in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, a zoo called Yancheng Wildlife World has attracted many visitors by letting them touch a live tiger.
The zoo put several tigers on display with chains over their mouths so visitors could touch the tigers' bottoms, which is supposed to bring them good luck.
The most popular tiger is a year-old male white Bengal tiger. With his neck and mouth chained, he can hardly move. Visitors rush to see him, take pictures with him and touch his bottom without fearing infuriating him. In total, more than 4,000 visitors have come to the zoo so far and most of them had the thrill of a lifetime playing with one of the most fierce animals on earth.
Tigers have sadly become a convenient tool for making money. Hundreds of years ago, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), a man named Wu Song was regarded as a big hero after he beat up a tiger after having a few bowls of liquor. Today tigers are listed as a protected species, and some are kept in zoos for people to watch. No one in the old days would have thought of tigers as soft toys for ordinary people to play with.
It is a crazy world. With money, you can do almost anything. Money can buy luxurious clothes, fancy cars, big apartments, and now, even more exciting, the chance to touch a tiger's butt, although they might have heard the old Chinese saying that a tiger's bottom is untouchable.
Ordinary people who do not get the chance to see wild animals can satisfy their curiosity just by paying a couple of yuan. Zoo managers, meanwhile, are happy because they have discovered a new way of making big money and promoting their zoo.
I can't remember exactly when was the last time I visited a zoo. But I do remember going there when I was a little girl all excited to see ostriches, pythons and even penguins.
Theoretically, the Year of the Tiger should bring some benefits to the animal. But the reality is that unfortunate tigers are being exhibited for people to play with. It is a pity I do not live in Changzhou. Otherwise I would also have had the opportunity to conquer a tiger by touching its bottom. After all, with a bit of money, what can't you do now?
But don't forget – tigers bite!
See original article at: http://opinion.globaltimes.cn/observer/2010-02/506559.html