SHENYANG - The 11 Siberian tigers which have died in the last three months have been frozen by the zoo in northeast China's Liaoning Province, the zoo manager claimed Monday.
A total of 11 Siberian tigers died of malnutrition over a span of three months at Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo in the provincial capital.
"After each tiger died, we invited vets and experts from Shenyang Agricultural University to conduct an autopsy and report the results to the animal protection authorities," said Wu Xi, manager of the zoo.
"The tiger meat, skins and bones are kept in storage freezers," Wu said.
But a zoo worker who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the tiger bones were used to make tiger-bone liquor, and said "the liquor was used to serve important guests. Only the boss has the key."
Officials with the Shenyang Wild Animal Protection Station and the experts who ran the autopsies on the tigers told Xinhua that none of them took part in dealing with the tigers parts.
It is illegal to sell tiger parts in China, as stipulated in the Wild Animal Protection Law. But illegal sales of tiger bones, penises and other parts still exist, since many believe that tiger parts can increase potency or cure diseases.
An investigation began Saturday, with investigators from the State Forestry Administration probing into the case.
Two tigers were shot dead while mauling a zoo worker in November 2009, bringing the total number of dead tigers in the zoo to 13.
The number of animals in the zoo has dropped by half in a decade, from 1,020 of 61 species in 2000 to 518 of 49 species in 2010.
The zoo is mainly privately owned with the Shenyang Municipal Government having a 15 percent share.