One kangaroo was killed and another injured at a zoo in southeast China after visitors to their enclosure pelted the animals with rocks and other objects in an apparent attempt to get the kangaroos to hop around. The abuse has sparked fury online and prompted renewed scrutiny into the mistreatment of animals at Chinese zoos, several of which have gained notoriety in recent years for cramped and cruel conditions.
Zookeepers at the Fuzhou Zoo in Fujian Province told the Haixia Metropolis News this week that at least one visitor threw “multiple” sharp-edged rocks at a 12-year-old female kangaroo in March to compel her to jump, leaving her badly injured and in “deep pain.” She died a few days later of profuse internal bleeding, her caretakers said.
A 5-year-old male kangaroo in the same enclosure was reportedly also injured last month after a visitor threw part of a brick at him. The younger kangaroo was not seriously hurt.
“Some adult [visitors] see the kangaroos sleeping and then pick up stones to throw at them,” a Fuzhou Zoo attendant told the Haixia Metropolis News. “Even after we cleared all the stones from the display area, they went elsewhere to find them. It’s abhorrent.”
Netizens in China and elsewhere have expressed their horror at the behavior of the stone-hurling visitors.
The Metropolis News said on Friday that their social media pages were flooded with readers’ angry comments, with many calling for visitors who mistreat animals to be “blacklisted” from zoos.
The Fuzhou Zoo said it had applied for funding to install high-definition surveillance cameras to better identify perpetrators. They added that now only three kangaroos would be on display to reduce the risks to the animals.
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Several Chinese zoos have made headlines in recent years for mistreatment of animals. Last year, visitors were horrified when a live donkey was fed to tigers at a so-called safari park near Shanghai. In 2016, hundreds of thousands of people called for the closure of Guangzhou’s Grandview Aquarium, dubbed the “saddest zoo in the world,” after photos of the facility’s barren enclosures went viral.
Such incidents have increased concerns in China about the country’s lack of comprehensive animal welfare laws.
Without such legislation, “we can only try to persuade people using common sense and referring to animal welfare laws in Western countries,” Tong Yanfang, an animal welfare advocate, told the South China Morning Post last year.
“For children and many adults who lack judgment, a wrong perception has been built [in China] that animals are there for the entertainment of humans,” Tong said. “When they see animals perform in a zoo, they won’t consider how the animals acquired those skills.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.