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Tainan County confiscates newborn ligers (update 1)

2010/08/16 18:36:05

Taipei, Aug. 17 (CNA) The Tainan County government on Mondayafternoon confiscated newborn ligers -- hybrids of a tiger and a lion-- from a private zoo to be sheltered at a research institute inPingtung and said the zoo operator will be fined.

Wu Hsing-hao, the chief of the Forest and Natural ConservationSection of the Department of Agricultural, said the three one-day oldcubs -- two alive and one that died at birth -- will be kept at theNational Pingtung University's Institute of Wildlife Conservation.

In accordance with the Wildlife Conservation Law, zoo operatorHuang Kuo-nan, known as "the snake king, " will face a fine ofbetween NT$10,000 and NT$50,000 for breeding protected animals, Wuadded.

Earlier in the day, an animal rights group called for theimmediate seizure of the ligers, saying Huang should be severelypunished for illegally cross-breeding two species of protectedanimals.

The Environmental and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) said Huang,who possesses an array of wildlife, should be dealt with harshly todeter others from copying the behavior.

"Cross-breeding two protected species is completely againstnature. We are urging the Council of Agriculture (COA) to seize thetwo cubs immediately and bring Huang to real justice. A fine ofNT$50,000 is a mere slap on the wrist, " said Lin Tai-jing, an EASTresearcher.

Lin said NT$50,000 is "too low a price to legalize an illegalact."

"It's like paying the government for a permit to breed ligers,"she said.

Huang, however, said he did not force the two animals to breed,but admitted he kept a male lion and a tigress together in the samespace over the last few years, dubbing the two as "childhoodsweethearts" and describing the births as "an accident."

Earlier this month, Huang was accused by animal welfare advocatesof selling live tigers and bears as well as tiger bones and bear paws-- considered by some to have medicinal properties.

Huang cried foul over the accusations, saying he runs alegitimate business. Huang was a member of the COA wildlifeconservation panel from 1995 to 2000 and is currently underinvestigation for the alleged trade of endangered species.

(By Jenny W. Hsu)