Body & Sports

Xiamen zookeeper fired after letting tourists ride tortoises

Updated: 2015-05-07
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This picture of a man riding a tortoise at at zoo caused outrage among animal rights campaigners
Photographs purporting to show a tortoise being prodded with screwdriver into giving a child a ride on its shell have caused outrage among Chinese animals rights campaigners.

A series of images posted on Tuesday on Chinese social media site Weibo showed the animal being ridden by a tourist, with the poster claiming the tortoise was crying and prodded with the screwdriver to make it move.

The pictures were reported to be taken at Haicang Wild Animal Park in Xiamen city in south east China.

The tortoise is reported to be a diplomatic gift sent by Mauritius.

The zookeeper has now been sacked and authorities are investigating, the People's Daily Online reported.

The images attracted huge amounts of comments, and by 7.40pm they had been reposted more than 1,200 times by outraged viewers.

Director Jiang, of Haicang Wild Animal Park, told reporters that as soon as the zoo was notified of the photos on Weibo, staff immediately set out to verify the issue.

They confirmed the woman in the photo was a zookeeper and said she was holding a tool used for cage maintenance. The zookeeper has denied the accusations.

Mr Jiang said: 'Our zoo does not allow our animals to be ridden.

'The team set up to investigate this matter have established that this was the decision of the individual zoo keeper and that person has been dismissed.'
The zoo's director claimed the zookeeper had been sacked and the organisation did not condone allowing visitors to ride their two Aldabra giant tortoises (pictured)
A spokesman from the zoo confirmed to local media that the two Aldabra giant tortoises they are looking after were diplomatic gifts given by Mauritius authorities to China.

The zoo allowed visitors to take pictures with them, but did not allow them to be ridden.

The spokesman said: 'It costs tourists 30 yuan (£3.6) to take a picture with the tortoises and the zookeeper can earn 9-10 yuan (£1) as commission from each picture.

He added that the zookeeper seen in the images couldn't 'resist the lure of money,' suggesting that she let tourists to ride the tortoises in order to get them take more pictures.
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