Volunteer outcry forces Beijing Zoo to fund cat shelters
Global Times | 2012-10-23 23:45:06
By Zhang Hui
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A cat hides behind a tree near a Beijing Zoo-approved shelter Tuesday. Photo: Li Hao/GT
A cat hides behind a tree near a Beijing Zoo-approved shelter Tuesday. Photo: Li Hao/GT



Beijing Zoo and animal lovers reached an agreement Tuesday to build more shelters for stray cats inside the park after the zoo demolished many in early October.

"The zoo has built 15 shelters last week, and will build 50 more soon," Qin Xiaona, the president of the Capital Animal Welfare Association, who attended Tuesday's negotiation, told the Global Times.

Qin said the animal lovers will guide the strays to the north of the zoo to keep them away from rare animals such as pandas, and the zoo said it will build a "cat island" next year to gather the 100 stray cats there.

The negotiation was held after the zoo demolished over 70 cat shelters, blaming them for destroying the zoo's environment which sparked wide public accusations during the October 1 National Day holiday.

Ye Mingxia, the zoo's media officer, said she knew nothing about Tuesday's negotiation, and referred the reporter to an earlier online announcement made by the zoo.

In the announcement, the zoo suspected the stray cats caused the death of both cats and dogs earlier this year and said it would restrict where the cats could roam.

However, after the zoo put 15 newly built shelters in the north of the zoo last week, some volunteers who frequently feed the cats found the cats are not tempted by them, as it is too far from their usual habitat. 

"The cats are living in the rain and cold, and we moved some shelters back although the zoo forbid us to do so," said a volunteer who asked for anonymity, adding she hopes the zoo will offer a warm winter for the cats.

Qin also believes the stray cats should not be in proximity to other wild animals to prevent spread of disease, and suggested volunteers put cat food in the north part of the zoo, as cats live where the food is.

"Volunteers should also care about other animals, and the cats will gather in the north if they start to put food down in that area," Qin noted.

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