A zoo in Dezhou City, east China’s Shandong Province, recently attracted criticism for placing a husky dog in a pen populated by a dozen wolves, as a way to create more fun for tourists.
Chinese animal lovers raised the alarm about the unusual member of the wolf pack after a video shot by a tourist at Dezhou zoo went viral on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. He explained that he happened to be visiting the zoo when he saw a strange-looking wolf limping around in a pen full of actual wolves. It didn’t take him long to figure out that the animal was some kind of Husky-Alaskan-mix canine.
“As we all know, wolves like living with each other and have a strong sense of territory,” the man, surnamed Huang, wrote in the post. “Don’t you think it would be miserable for the dog to live there?” He also mentioned that the dog was obviously wounded, as it was struggling to walk on just three legs. His video attracted a lot of attention, with the vast majority of commenters accusing the zoo for acting irresponsibly.
“It will starve to death if no action is taken. Huskies are known to have a gentle temperament and no sense of attacking. How can it obtain food from a pack of wolves?” one person wrote. “This is too cruel. “How dare they mix a dog with wolves and it was injured,” another added.
The media quickly picked up the story, and an Huanqiu.com, an affiliation of People’s Daily contacted the zoo to get their side of the story. Surprisingly, zoo officials openly admitted that they deliberately put the dog in with the pack of wolves “for fun”, to raise the entertainment level for their visitors. However, they were quick to add that the husky had been living in harmony with the wolves for the past few months, so there was no reason for concern.
Regarding the dog’s injury, the zoo claimed that it was a simple scratch sustained in the enclosure, and that it was quickly treated by their veterinarian. Following the public outrage, officials announced that the husky was recently separated from the wolves.
“This dog clearly needs urgent veterinary attention and belongs in a loving home, not in a zoo to be exploited for the paying public,” Elisa Allen, director of PETA UK, told The Daily Mail. “The predatory instincts of wolves don’t simply vanish in captivity, and a limping domesticated dog thrown into their enclosure may well end up on the receiving end of aggression.”