London had the Olympic games and the Paralympics. Not to be outdone, Shanghai has revealed an ‘animal Olympics’ – though, as you might expect, it’s not without controversy. The event is being held by the Shanghai Wildlife Park and began when an elephant named Yanu lit the ‘Olympic’ flame last Sunday by stamping on a pedal. Events include bear bicycle races, dog hurdling, a gorilla on the balance beam, and a basketball match featuring elephants. All in all, 40 ‘sports’ will be contested, with the games running till late November. But the Shanghai Daily reports the event has come under fire from animal rights groups. Dr Sun Quanhui of the China office of the World Society for the Protection of Animals says the “so-called animal Olympics mistreats animals and hurts their health”. Sun reckons training methods involved withholding food and that animals can die during preparation for the events. “They may want to attract an audience and amuse people, but it shows a lot of disrespect for creatures,” says Sun. A press officer for the wildlife park dismissed the criticism saying it was pleasant for the animals because all the games were “based on their nature”.
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