A Chinese theme park apologized on Monday after it forced a pig to bungee jump off a 68-meter high tower to mark the opening of its new attraction.
The 75-kilogram pig, with its legs tied with rope and wearing a cape, was carried to the top of the 68-meter (223-foot) tower at the Meixin Red Wine Town theme park in Chongqing, southwest China, on Saturday. It was then strapped into a bungee cord and pushed over the tower.
In video footage of the incident, the pig is heard squealing as it bounces up and down multiple times before becoming still. The crowd below can be heard laughing, screaming, and cheering. The animal is eventually pulled up on its side, before being taken to the slaughterhouse.
The incident apparently embarrassed the Communist Party despite China’s long history of both animal and human rights abuse, as the state propaganda outlet Global Times claimed Chinese “netizens,” comments on communist-controlled social media outlets, criticized the video.
“It was miserable for the animal! It’s a disgusting marketing idea to attract attention by abusing a pig!” one user allegedly wrote.
Others reportedly suggested that the theme park’s manager should “be thrown off the bungee tower to see how calm he kept.”
The animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also denounced the incident, calling it “animal cruelty at its worst.”
“Pigs experience pain and fear in the same ways that we do, and this disgusting PR stunt should be illegal,” Jason Baker, PETA senior vice president of international campaigns, told BBC News. “The Chinese public’s angry response should be a wake-up call to China’s policy-makers to implement animal protection laws immediately.”
Meixin Red Wine Town has since apologized for the stunt, describing it as an “ill-conceived activity aimed to pray for pork prices to take a dive.”
“We sincerely accept netizens’ criticism and advice and apologize to the public,” the site said in a statement. “We will improve [our] marketing of the tourist site, to provide tourists with better services.”
Despite being the world’s largest consumer of pork, China has been affected by severe shortages and soaring prices over the past year as a result of an African swine fever that killed wiped out hundreds of millions of pigs.
China is notorious for its lack of animal welfare laws, with events such as the annual Yulin Dog Festival regularly drawing worldwide condemnation for its treatment of animals. After several years of global outrage at the festival, Chinese officials claimed to have canceled the festival in 2017, but evidence surfaced of locals in Yulin killing and eating dogs in celebration with little government intervention.
In 2017, a report from National Geographic found that there is a growing awareness of issues pertaining to animal welfare among Chinese people, even as the Chinese Communist Party only superficially responds to international concern. Shelters and rescue centers are reportedly beginning to open across the country.