H5N1 kills Thai zoo leopard; Beijing Zoo stops feeding live chickens to tigers

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2004:

BEIJING–The avian flu H5N1 killed an endangered clouded
leopard on January 27 at the Khao Khiew Zoo in Chonburi province,
Thailand, environment minister Prabat Panyachatraksa confirmed on
February 13, after two weeks of rumors. The leopard was fed mainly
chicken carcasses. A white tiger also became ill, but recovered.
The Khao Khiew Zoo and four other leading Thai zoos closed
their bird exhibits several days earlier, after 36 pheasants, pea
fowl, and Siamese firebacks died at a rare bird menagerie in Suphan
Buri province.
Pin Lyvun, director of the Phnom Tamao zoo in Cambodia,
told the Melbourne Age that 56 wild birds had died there as of
February 15, and that the zoo had killed 400 parakeets after some of
them died mysteriously. The zoo thereafter closed its bird exhibits.
The death of the clouded leopard was soon followed by menu
changes at the Beijing Zoo–not well-appreciated by the first
observers. “Gone are the lions and tigers’ live chicken dinners,”
lamented the Malaysia Star on February 11, in translation from the
China Daily. The big cats were switched to a more natural diet of
raw beef and mutton, the Malaysia Star and China Daily reported.
Western zoo experts have for more than a decade urged Chinese
counterparts to stop feeding live animals to carnivores. Chinese
zoo directors, however, have seen live feeding as a gate
attraction, contrary to lessons learned by most U.S. and European
animal exhibitors generations ago, and have defended the practice by
insisting that live feedings keep predators mentally fit.

Never approved of by the American Zoo Association, public
live feeding was last documented in the U.S. in 1996, when the USDA
Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service closed the Steel City
Petting Zoo in Cottondale, Florida, after owner Romulus Scalf
allegedly fed live animals to alligators.
“The peacocks at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park and the
Beijing Badaling Safari Animal World, who used to strut around
showing off their plumage, now are forced to stay in cages,” added
the Malaysia Star and China Daily. “Turkeys at the Beijing
Zoo–believed to be particularly susceptible to the poultry
virus–have been moved out of their old home to quarters separate
from visitors. Bird display sections have been closed for health
reasons” and “the keepers are keeping the displays cleaner and not
as crowded.”
But other Chinese zoos demonstrated that they still don’t
understand how zoological education differs from circus
entertainment. To welcome the January 22 start of The Year of The
Monkey, the Forest Safari Park in Shenyang dyed monkeys’ fur and
the manes of wild horses in bright colors. The Nanning Zoo offered
free ostrich meat and peacock soup, made from animals formerly on
exhibit.
Both zoos are located in regional centers of dog-eating and
wildlife-eating, but shocked visitors still found their practices
abusive. Shenyang Wild Animal Protection Organization director Zhu
Chengwei, Liaon-ing University zoologist Liu Lingyu, and a beauty
salon manager named Li who had extensive experience with hair-dying
all criticized the monkey-dying in statements to the Xinhua News
Service.
Three visitors denounced making meals of zoo animals to the
Chinese web news service <www.sina.com>.

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