Furious animal lovers have accused zoo keepers of negligence after a much-loved wildcat choked to death when it was fed pieces of chicken on the bone.
The Pallas’s cat – a small mountain cat famous for its ferocity – was the only captive male of the species in China.
Zoo officials at Xining Wildlife Park in Qinghai province admitted on 10th October that the seven-year-old cat – named Sunsimiao – had died with a chicken bone stuck in his throat.
Local media reported that the zoo has been bombarded with social media criticism over its feeding programme.
A spokesman for the zoo told local media: “We will review how this accident happened and reassess the risks in our feeding and management work to avoid similar tragedies from occurring again.”
Sunsimiao became an online celebrity in China because of his cute, grumpy appearance.
Born in 2015, Sunsimiao was rescued from a resident’s home in Xining by the Qinghai Wildlife Rescue and Breeding Center.
He and his twin sister were sent to the zoo after their adoptive carer found they had “untamed personalities”.
He spent his days living at the zoo becoming increasingly famous as time went on.
Last year, Sunsimiao has a female kitten together with Sunshangxiang, another female Pallas’s cat rescued in 2019.
The kitten is the first artificially bred Pallas’s cat to survive in China.
Xining Wildlife Park said in Sunsimiao’s obituary that although it had never experienced the vastness of the wild plateau in its life, it has made countless people understand and pay attention to this species.
As Sunsimiao was the only captive male Pallas’s cat – or manul cat – in China, the zoo’s breeding programme has come to a sudden end.
Zoo vice director Qi Xinzhang said on Weibo: “We will continue to help breed more manuls once we find or rescue more males.”
The species is commonly found in the mountains of Siberia, Tibet and Mongolia and is listed as “of least concern” on the IUCN Red List.
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Story By: Simona Kitanovska, Sub-Editor: Joe Golder, Agency: Asia Wire Report
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