Beggars attending a religious festival in southern China had to stay inside specially built human-size metal cages or risk being removed from the city during the recent town fair. Apparently, the temporary confinement inside what some are calling a human zoo, was designed to prevent the poor from harassing festival attendees. A Nanchang city official claims that the number of beggars showing up for the annual religious event has increased in recent year and make temple visitors uncomfortable.
Down-and-out Chinese residents who arrived to plead for spare cash were separated from the crowd inside the metal cages. Nanchang event attendees could still choose to toss pocket change at those inside the row of cages, which created a sight that looked like a human zoo.
A Chinese religious fair organizer had this to say about the unusual segregation method:
“The beggars are quite comfortable in their cages, people send them food and water as gifts. In a way it is better for them there than having a place on the busy streets. The beggars can leave whenever they like but they have to leave the city too, they can’t go into the fair. Our guests come to enjoy themselves and that is the top priority.”
Organizers of the religious activities did note that those asking for money from attendees entered their cages voluntarily and that no one forced them to beg for a living, according to Oddity Central. Some Nanchang visitors were reportedly horrified by the sight of adults sticking their hands through metal bars to receive food and money.
Human rights activists not surprisingly took exception to seeing people treated like zoo animals. Those that spoke out against the treatment of the poor in China called the metal cages a form of public humiliation and wondered if doing tricks for their food would be next, according to the Daily Mail.