Farm factories in China are breeding lions and tigers en masse and then harvesting their organs to meet the growing demand for traditional Chinese “medicine,” the NGO World Animal Protection revealed in a report on Tuesday.
In their report, entitled “Trading Cruelty,” WAP confirmed the existence of industrial-scale cat farms used to meet the growing demand for cat organs in the Asian medicine market to treat conditions ranging from arthritis to meningitis, despite little scientific evidence to support its effectiveness.
“We examined the supply chain feeding the insatiable demand for big cat products in Asia and found horrific cruelty in every corner,” reads a summary of the report. “Before they’re killed, and their body parts are used in traditional medicine, these wild animals are subjected to various forms of cruelty.”
“In China, huge, industrial-style big cat farms have row upon row of tiny cells, each housing a miserable lion or tiger,” it continues. “These facilities provide only the minimum requirements for the cats to survive, such as food and water. Tigers are often kept in small cages measuring approximately 4×7 meters.”
The organization also found “harrowing evidence” that inbreeding and aggressive breeding has left many of the animals with health issues such as sight, hearing, breathing, and chewing problems. In some cases, the animals were deformed as a result of their weakened genetic profile.
“These big cats are exploited for greed and money – for medicine that’s never been proven to have any curative properties whatsoever. For that reason alone, it’s unacceptable,” said Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, a wildlife adviser at WAP, on the report’s findings.
“But given that at each stage of their lives they suffer immensely – this makes it an absolute outrage,” she continued. “Many of these animals will only ever see the world through metal bars, they will only ever feel hard concrete beneath their paws, and they will never get to experience their most basic predatory instinct – a hunt. These animals are majestic apex predators – they are not playthings – nor are they medicine.”
Cases of animal rights abuses are commonplace in China, which is widely considered one of the worst violators of these rights. Among the best-known examples of state tolerated animal abuse is the Yulin dog meat festival, where consumers eat an estimated 15,000-20,000 dogs each year. The barbaric event has attracted worldwide condemnation and attracted the attention of Hollywood stars who have pleaded with Chinese authorities to outlaw the consumption of dog meat.
In 2017, the Chinese Communist Party announced plans to shut down the festival, although animal rights campaigners remain skeptical that it will lead to any meaningful change after this year’s event took place as planned.