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Eatery told 'urine' breach of the law
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-08 05:41

HARBIN: Want to become strong and potent like a tiger? Then why not try our special tiger meat dish? This was the question posed to customers at a restaurant in Hailin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

The establishment was later fined and ordered to close for inspection, after a local newspaper revealed its recommendation of the outlawed dish.

The restaurant, which is called "Hufulou", is situated about a kilometre away from the Hengdaohezi Siberian Tiger Park, China's largest Siberian tiger breeding centre.

The restaurant was offering a dish of stir-fried tiger meat with hot peppers for 800 yuan (US$98), according to reports.

If you wanted to buy some raw meat to eat at home, it would set you back a staggering 7,000 yuan (US$ 863) a kilo.

To wash down your expensive repast, maybe a bottle of wine, pickled with tiger bone, at a price of 600 yuan (US$74) would please your palate, if not your wallet.

The Siberian tiger is on China's list of animals given grade 1 protection.

The World Wildlife Fund lists the wild Siberian tiger as one of the 10 most endangered animals in the world.

Reportedly it is only found in Northeast China and Siberian regions of Russia with a total number of less than 300.

The hunting and sale of animals under protection is prohibited in China with poachers receiving severe punishment when caught.

When asked how the restaurant obtained the tiger meat, a waiter replied that the owner of the restaurant had good connections within the tiger park and could get the meat of dead tigers.

The tiger-meat story published in a local newspaper has created shock waves.

Police subsequently raided the restaurant and confiscated the so-called tiger meat.

After inspection, the owner, Ma Shikun, confessed that the so-called tiger meat was actually donkey meat that had been dressed with tiger urine, to give the dish a "special" flavour.

Local authorities ordered the restaurant to close for inspection and confiscated its illegal profits, 800 yuan the price of a plate of 'tiger' meat and added another 2,400 yuan (US$296) by way of a fine.

"It is impossible for the meat of dead tigers from the park to be smuggled outside," said Wang Ligang, director of the Siberian Tiger Park.

The Siberian Tiger Park, which was set up in 1986 with only eight tigers, now has a population of 500.

Wang said the park had strict procedures for dealing with the remains of dead tigers.

"We have specialist workers to remove the hide and detach the meat from the bone," said Wang.

"Some useful organs are preserved in formalin for research while the remaining meat is incinerated and buried; the fur and bones are stored in a refrigerator," he added.

Each dead tiger has a file detailing how much meat and bones are produced during the process.

"At least six people are required to attend to each tiger's 'funeral affairs' and all of them must sign their names on the death file," Wang said.

(China Daily 09/08/2005 page3)

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