Zoo workers in China parade animals to reclaim lost land

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 18:18

Beijing: In a symbolic and unusual protest
to reclaim their land used by authorities to build a sports
stadium, zoo keepers in China have moved two tigers, a lion
and ten emus to a cycling field demanding immediate official
action on the issue.

On Sunday morning, two young lions and a Serbian tiger
were found in cages while emus strolled at a bicycle field.

"It`s a protest, and we have no alternatives," a zoo
official Liang Jun had told the state run Global Times Monday.
In 1984, the Zhengzhou government had transferred 3.3
hectares of zoo land to the Henan Sports Bureau to construct a
cycling field for the first National Juvenile Games of 1985.

The government had promised it would give adjacent land
of the same size back to the zoo in two years but so far the
promise has not been implemented, he said.

The protest was ignited after a recent petition was
rejected.

"Repeated requests to the bureau and other superiors over
the past years to make good on the promise all failed," Liang
said.

The zoo is crowded and there`s little room to make any
improvement, Liang said.

"But the centre has lent its land to private sectors like
a driving school. If they return the land to us, we can build
more facilities, including a scientific education centre for
children," she added.

Bureau official confirmed the commercial projects but
denied any obligation of the cycling centre to return the
land.

"Their act is crazy and has affected the social order and
brought security risks to the residents," Yuan Jun, head of
the publicity department of the bureau, told the newspaper.

"The government plans to build a street of restaurants,
bars, and cafes and borrow some land for the project," Yuan
said.
"Furthermore, it`s the government who made the promise.
Both we and the zoo should follow government orders and we
have no right to decide on the use of this land," he said.

After the development is completed, the cycling center
can earn 500,000 yuan (USD 14,648) a year in rent, Yuan said
adding the centre is facing insufficient financial support.

The zoo protest has worried some local residents.

"What if the animals get out? This is not a time to blame
the protesters, but to find the violators," Wu Chenggang an
online editor of a newspaper said.

The government has stepped into an investigation, as per
a local Henan TV station.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 18:18

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