Planet China

Not a fan

Famed wildlife filmmaker David Attenborough would wince at some of the goings-on at Chinese zoos (in WiC166 we described an ‘animal Olympics’ in Shanghai). And he would definitely be shocked by a recently exposed practice at Beijing Wildlife Zoo. A journalist from the Beijing Evening News reports that staff at the zoo have been profiting from a peacock which will spread its tail to order. Tourists were told that the staff could get it to display its plumage “whenever we want”. If a family wanted a photograph with the bird’s feathers fully fanned out, it would cost Rmb20.

The reporter was suspicious that the zookeepers had been able to train a peacock to plume to order – and became even more so when he saw a member of staff disappear behind the bird, and heard a ‘pop’ sound.

On closer examination it became clear that an artificial, electric tail had been attached to the bird. Whenever a customer paid for a photo, a button was pressed to open the tail. After the snap was taken, it was deactivated. Further evidence that – for a price – anything can be faked in China…


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