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Advocates urge harsh punishment for 'liger' breeder

2010/08/16 16:44

Taipei, Aug 16 (CNA) An animal rights group on Monday called forthe immediate seizure of two newborn ligers -- a hybrid of a tigerand lion -- from a private zoo in Tainan County, saying the operatorshould be severely punished for illegally cross-breeding twodifferent species of protected animals.

Environmental and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) said HuangKuo-nan, the owner of an educational farm, violated the WildlifeConservation Law by allowing two types of protected animals to mate.

The group is urging the government to mete out harsh punishmenton Huang, known as the "snake king, " to deter others from copyingthe behavior.

On Sunday, a six year-old tigress gave birth to three ligers butonly two survived, according to Huang.

Kuo Yi-pin, the head of the Tainan County Government AgriculturalDepartment, said tigers and lions are protected animals andtherefore, it is illegal to artificially cross-breed the two.

The county officials are scheduled to visit the farm and willslap Huang with a NT$50,000 fine and confiscate the cubs if any legaldiscrepancies are found, he said.

"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 a light fine of NT$50,000 is "too little to pay tolegalize an illegal behavior."

"It is like paying the government for a permit to breed ligers, "she argued.

Huang, however, said he did not artificially breed the animalsbut admitted he has kept a male lion and a tigress in the same spacefor the last few years, dubbing the two "childhood lovers" anddescribing the births of the cubs as an "accident."

Earlier this month, Huang was the target for animal welfareadvocates when he was accused of selling live tigers and bears aswell as tiger bones and bear paws -- both believed to have medicinalproperties.

Huang has cried foul over the accusations, saying he runsa legitimate business. Huang was a member of the COA's wildlifeconservation panel from 1995 to 2000 and is currently underinvestigation for the illegal trade of endangered species.

(By Jenny W. Hsu) enditem/bc