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Tiger, lions not yet saved due to valley climate
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The Happy Valley park is an alpine scenic spot in Hongbai Town, Shifang City. After the earthquake on May 12 the road was blocked, and there has since been a power blackout.

By Keen Zhang

The plan to rescue one endangered tiger and two lions from a Shifang wild animal park was postponed due to bad weather, with one military helicopter almost downed in southwest China's Sichuan Province yesterday, local media reported.

Despite careful preparation, the rescue effort did not go smoothly. Due to bad weather in the valley, the first planned rescue was postponed. A new attempt will be made today, Ge Yujin, an Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff, told theTianfu Morning Post.

Three white lions and two white tigers had been trapped in the park since the May 12 quake. Breeders had trekked into the valley on June 5, bringing beef to feed the bony and starving animals. Two days ago a 2-year-old tiger was shot dead by soldiers to protect the safety of quake survivors, while another white lion has already starved to death. It is hoped to transport the remaining two white lions and one white tiger to the Bifengxia Zoo in Ya'an City.

However, a Super Puma copter heading to Shifang City to evacuate the animals made a forced landing at 12:35 PM yesterday when it encountered mechanical problems. Three people were injured, one critically, said an official with the Shifang Municipal Quake Relief and Rescue Headquarters when speaking to Xinhua News Agency.

The injured were evacuated by another helicopter. A preliminary report had indicated that no one was injured in the accident. The chopper had 13 crew and quake relief staff aboard when the accident happened. The aircraft belongs to Citic Offshore Helicopter Co. Ltd.

The Deyang Municipal Government this week agreed with the airborne force to airlift the animals out of the Happy Valley Park. Over 50 soldiers and rescuers were sent into the valley by helicopter yesterday while a temporary platform in a former parking lot of the resort was also set up for copter landing.

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