HARBIN, CHINA — Photos of obese tigers that were treated as a laughing matter when they circulated on Chinese social media have been condemned by animal rights activists in the United States.
While the big cats at the Siberian Tiger Park in the northeastern city of Harbin are getting plenty of food, they are also developing problems with their joints and limbs, impairing their ability to walk normally.
Siberian tigers are typically solitary creatures. Weight issues aside, keeping several of them confined to the same small space is problematic as it is.
The tigers also may be getting fat because visitors are allowed to feed them, either by offering beef strips from a tour bus, or paying for a live cow, goat or chicken to be dumped in the enclosure, where the fat cats begin a feeding frenzy.
Though the park makes claims of tiger conservation, animal welfare groups counter that this is simply a cover for the production of tiger skins and tiger bone wines, industries that are supported by some government departments in China.