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Tiger, lions to be saved instead of shot
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Two lions and one tiger are being transported to a zoo by military choppers after they were bereft for 30 days, the Chengdu Evening News reported.

After the Wanguan Group, parent company of the Happy Valley Park, asked Deyang local government departments for help, authorities agreed to use helicopters to transport the three animals to the Bifengxia Zoo.

Four copters carrying 30 rescuer workers and officials of Shifang's forestry bureau were sent to the park grounds yesterday to scan the terrain and check on the health of two lions and a tiger. Due to the weakened physical condition of the animals, they couldn't be injected with narcotics so they were transported in cages while sober and alert. Five more experienced breeders were heading to the valley this morning in order to help.

But according to a Xinhua report later this day, a helicopter on the way to Shifang to carry out the wild animal rescue mission today, had to make a forced landing in Siping County at 12:35 PM after a mechanical malfunction. All passengers – 13 crew members and relief staff – onboard fortunately were safe.

According to a previous report by Beijing News, armed soldiers were ordered to shoot dead two caged tigers and three lions abandoned by a circus in Shifang City after the May 12 earthquake. Officials were gravely concerned that the animals would escape and threaten survivors.

On June 3, a 2-year-old tiger was shot dead since its cage was fragile. At the same time another white lion starved to death.

The Happy Valley Park was situated around Yinghua Mountain, Shifang City. Currently the circus has released 20 deer and 10 monkeys into nearby forests. After the quake, landslides and mudslides occurred sporadically, causing the sole road to be destroyed and buildings also collapsed. Over 400 park workers escaped the area on foot, walking nine hours to safety.

When Chen Qinghua, head of Wanguan Group, was informed that the tiger and lions were still alive, he organized people to try to rescue them.

On June 5, a 5-member team, including 3 breeders, bought 16-kilograms of beef at nearby market, and then walked 10 hours on foot and eventually reached their destination. The two lions and one tiger were barely alive after 25 days without food and water. One breeder said it was a miracle. When they ate the beef, the emaciated animals partially revived.

(China.org.cn by Keen Zhang, June 11, 2008)

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