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Saving of tiger a humane option
( 2003-09-29 08:37) (China Daily)

The extreme concern and care Jilin Province authorities displayed in rescuing an endangered Siberian tiger that escaped from an animal park in Antu of the Northeast China's province showed the renewed commitment Chinese authorities have toward upholding our environment and toward preserving natural wonders, including endangered animals.

While early on in the three-day drama, the tiger was shot by a possibly trigger-happy police officer, the animal suffered only a minor wound to a fore-leg, an injury thought not to be life-threatening. Local police officials, apparently encouraged by superiors, quickly clamped down and made certain that no more gunplay would be used to resolve the situation after the animal escaped last Saturday at the Changbai Mountain Siberian Tiger Park.

A stand-off ensued, but extreme patience paid off mightily. While the old Chinese saying that "a buttocks of a tiger cannot be touched" proved true once again, this tiger nonetheless was outsmarted. General Sun Tsu would have been proud of the police strategists.

Authorities first thought of cutting a hole in the park's fence, through which the tiger could re-enter the park. They employed an ox to lure the tiger back, tactically placing it along the only pathway as bait to attract the hungry animal. It worked, serving as just the right antidote to resolve the situation.

"It was obvious he was too hungry to stand any longer. He pounced on ox we left as bait and ate it completely. This is just the ending we wanted," said Li Yongli, a senior local forestry police official who, along with other officers, had very little sleep during the ordeal.

That 3 am meal came 60 hours after the tiger had leapt over his wire-mesh enclosure after being irritated with the shoutings made by a farmer from a tree outside the wire fence, according to media reports. The farmer had ignored the warning signs in the park to get close to the fence to pick pine nuts.

The tiger did what tigers do instinctively. He attacked. The man was severely injured but remains in stable condition in a local hospital.

The police participating in the tiger posse are no worse for wear.

"We sustained no losses other than suffering from the chilly weather and terrible flocks of mosquitoes," Liu told reporters.

That bit of discomfort for Liu and some 60 other officers is well worth it. An endangered Siberian tiger - of which about 400 remain in the wild - is back for all to see. Nature's precious gift to the world is preserved.

And, all of China can be proud of this reasonable and humane accomplishment. 

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