Planet China

Get stuffed

Goodbye luxury watches, designer ties and vintage wine. Chinese government officials are keen on a new gift: stuffed animals (and not the type you give to kids). No, these ones are the real beasts.

Southern Weekend reports that there has been a suspiciously large uptick in the number of “natural deaths and losses” of animals in Chinese zoos. According to the newspaper, many were killed so that their pelts could be sold to taxidermists. Tigers, deer and monkeys are particularly prized as prestige items because of their symbolic value. “These specimen show nobility and elegance. They are gifts that demonstrate the gift-giver’s respect and sincerity,” according to the brochure of one taxidermist.

Siberian tigers are especially popular. The endangered species – there are only 360 left – fetch as much as Rmb3 million ($490,000). “Zoos are the most important part of the chain,” the head of one taxidermy firm told Southern Weekend. “They can buy a live tiger for between Rmb20,000 to Rmb30,000. If you can have it die a ‘natural death’, [zoos] can make a lot more money selling them.”

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