After Animal Attacks, Beijing Calls for Safer Zoos
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2017-08-24 11:13:20

Following several disastrous encounters between people and animals, Beijing has drafted new safety standards for wildlife parks that will make sure the two groups stay separated, Beijing Youth Daily reported Thursday.

The proposed safety standards, originally made public on the municipal government’s website on Friday, say that wildlife parks where tourists can drive their own cars should install fences, moats, or glass walls “to make sure no contact whatsoever is possible between the vehicles and the animals.”

Published by the Beijing Municipal Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision, the rules would also require parks to have clear safety notices with emergency numbers for tourists to call if needed.

Also on Friday, a tourist was bitten by a black bear at Badaling Wildlife World, on the outskirts of Beijing. Ignoring the park’s warnings, the man, surnamed Chen, had slightly rolled down his window and asked a friend in the car to take a picture of him feeding the bear. The animal then forced the window all the way down and took a bite of the man’s arm.

After the attack, Beijing’s Yanqing District tourism commission ordered the park to improve its safety management and limit the number of cars in the animal enclosures.

Last July in the same park, a woman was killed and her daughter seriously injured by a Siberian tiger after they both exited their vehicle. Camera footage showing the woman being dragged away by the animal went viral online.

A subsequent government investigation into the case concluded that the park was not responsible. The daughter, however, argued that she and her mother thought they had already left the restricted area, that the tiger enclosure was “complicated,” and that it lacked proper signage. She has asked the park for more than 2.7 million yuan ($405,000) in compensation.

Another bear attack occurred in the same park in February, when a child rolled down a car window by mistake and a bear reached inside the car. Park staff arrived on the scene and managed to drive the animal away.

Of the 30 to 40 wildlife parks in China, only Badaling allows tourists to travel through the enclosures, separated from the animals by only their own car doors. A similar wildlife park in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, installed electric fences after a 2015 accident in which a tiger killed a woman who had stepped out of her car.

Beijing’s draft regulations are currently seeking feedback from the public until mid-September.

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: Deer approach visitors’ vehicles at Badaling Wildlife World in Beijing, Oct. 29, 2016. Yang Shenlai for Sixth Tone)