PEGAS has learned that Hunan TV, a popular, nationwide, free television channel in China will launch a new “reality” show on January 24th featuring five pop stars playing zookeepers at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, which claims to be the largest animal theme park in Asia. It covers 130 hectares (over 320 acres) and imprisons over 20,000 animals and 500 species. The show is sponsored by vip.com, an Amazon-type online shopping corporation based in Guangzhou, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
“If this show turns out successful, there will be sequels or copy-cats…”, warned a Chinese great ape expert (who wishes to remain anonymous), who found out about the new show.
Chimelong is infamous for its spectacular animal entertainment acts, using great apes, elephants, bears and many other animals. A report by Animals Asia in 2009 concluded, “Zoos and safari parks are ideally placed to foster compassion for animals and raise awareness and understanding of the welfare and conservation needs of individual animals and species. Xiangjiang [a.k.a. Chimelong] Safari Park, Guangzhou Crocodile Farm and Chimelong International Circus make no attempt to provide this knowledge and to educate their visitors for the benefit of welfare and conservation.”
Animals Asia found that the animals at Chimelong were kept in cramped quarters and that cruel methods were employed to train them to perform circus acts.
Where are the great apes coming from? Is illegal trade involved? This is something that PEGAS will attempt to establish.
PEGAS would also not be surprised to see baby African elephants from Zimbabwe turn up on the TV show sometime in the not too distant future. Currently there are only Asian elephants at Chimelong.