Thursday, 18. December 2014
03. 06. 14. - 16:00
The organisers of a Dragon Boat Festival in China have drawn criticism from animal rights campaigners over a grab-a-duck contest staged as part of the festivities.
Some 80 wild ducks that had been caught prior to the festival were held in cages and then released on to the water for guests to grab - after having their wings clipped of course to make sure they did not fly away and spoil the fun.
Those who managed to snare the most ducks were declared the winners.
The water at Mianyang city in southwest China’s Sichuan province turned into a carpet of down as the terrified ducks scrambled to get away from life-jacketed hunters who frenziedly grabbed and clawed at them.
Xian Zhou-Ping, a local animal welfare official, complained about the festival to local communist party officials, saying it was "degrading and barbaric" for both those involved and the ducks.
But China still lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to animal rights with most people regarding God's lesser creatures merely as property for humans to do with as they will. There has, however, been a concerted effort by officials in recent years to try to get citizens to behave with more humanity towards them, particularly as the country opens up more and more to western tourists.
Zhou-Ping however said the duck grabbing contest showed progress was still all too slow: "This is the kind of spectacle that sets the cause of animal rights back another 100 years.
"The creatures were terrified and the people trying to catch them were laughing and joking at their expense. People in China have to realise that sentient creatures are deserving of respect, even if they are to be killed for food.
"Some were injured by the men and children grabbing at them and hauling them into nets and bags by their wings and feet. There were broken wings and legs. It set a terrible example to children who had flocked to the festival for a fun day out."
A flotilla and races of competing boats decorated as dragons are the highlights of the annual festival with the 'Grabbing Ducks' contest laid on in between races.
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