20 Siberian tigers die, private zoo in China under probe

A China forestry official said some deaths could have been caused by inbreeding.

Daniel Seow | May 17, 2024, 10:31 AM



A private zoo in China is being investigated by authorities following reports that 20 Siberian tigers died there over five years, with the bodies of animal cubs found in freezers.

Apart from the tigers, two African lions, three giraffes, and several macaques at Fuyang Wildlife Park in Anhui Province also reportedly died of unnatural causes, according to Chinese media.

The visit

A report from the China Philanthropist magazine caused an outcry when it claimed that the bodies of wild animal cubs were found in a freezer at the zoo during a visit on May 10.

The carcasses of other adult animals were also found stacked in a refrigerator waiting for disposal, the report said.

The freezer where the bodies of dead animal cubs were reportedly stored. Via Weibo.

The report cited data from the company providing the animals, Tengfei, which revealed that from October 2019 to March 2023, a total of 10 Siberian adult tigers died.

Additionally, only one out of the 11 tiger cubs born in the park in the past five years has survived.

The report also alleged that the surviving animals — including 16 Siberian tigers — continue to live in cramped cages and inhumane conditions.

Anhui authorities have since launched an investigation into the cause of the animal deaths, and aims to hold those responsible accountable, China Daily reported.

On May 13, Fuyang Wildlife Park announced a temporary closure, saying "due to the hot weather, parts of the park needed renovation," CGTN reported.

A staff member at the park also claimed to Chinese media that the dead tigers “do not belong to our zoo, but to another boss — we’re not sure what happened”.

Zoo's troubled opening

The opening of Fuyang Wildlife Park was beset by disputes over land usage rights, Chinese media reported.

Animals were sent to the half-finished park in 2018, even though it was only fully completed in 2021, Sixth Tone reported.

China's national forestry department had denied the zoo's request to breed endangered species like Siberian tigers in 2019, China Daily reported.

The park’s utilities were cut off at several points, causing some animals to die of thirst, starvation and illness, Li Lianghua, Tengfei's owner, told Chinese media.

The business disputes also led a number of trained staff to quit, he added.

On the other hand, a forestry bureau official said some animal deaths were caused by inbreeding, which led to genetic health issues and vulnerability to disease, Shanghai Daily reported.

Top image from Weibo.