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Lions Hit With Snowballs At China’s Hangzhou Zoo [Photos]

A series of photos showing a pair of lions being pelted with snowballs at a Chinese zoo have caused animal lovers around the globe to voice their outrage via the web.

According to Xinhuanet, the photos — taken at Hangzhou Zoo on January 5 and later posted on China’s microblogging site Sina Weibo — were shared countless times and received thousands of comments criticizing the blatant animal cruelty.

The Hangzhou Weekly reports the incident started after a sole visitor threw the first snowball, inciting others to join. The lion and lioness huddled together, as seen in the photos below, until the attack was over.

The group then moved on to other targets, according to the Weekly:

“When the group either tired of the “fun” and/or exhausted the snow around the enclosure, they moved on to similarly harass the zoo’s tigers, monkeys, giraffes, alpaca and… you get the drift.”

After the photos of the snowball assault surfaced online, they quickly went viral. Not surprisingly, many people were appalled by the senseless act of abuse, calling for greater protection of animals and more “moral education.”

One commenter, from the popular Chinese site Netease, wrote:

“Why didn’t the photographer or zoo keepers stop these tourists? The zoo should provide a room for these animals rather than make them stay in the cold.”

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NetEase user coming42 added:

“With our countrymen’s characters so low, even if we had democracy, what use would it be? Once people’s characters are high, the appropriate system [of government] will form itself naturally. A democracy without education and cultivation to prop it up is only the tyranny of the many over the few. If those who endorse anti-character theory died out, then there might be hope for China.”

When zoo officials were questioned as to why they allowed this kind of behavior, breeder Zhu Yan told Xinhua that zoo workers did not see them throwing snowballs because they were busy clearing snow elsewhere. He later told media sources,

“Although snowballs can’t hurt large animals like lions, the behavior upset us nonetheless,” Zhu said. “Our animals should be treated fairly. We hope our visitors will use some self-discipline and be nicer to them.”

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Readers: What is your take on the Hangzhou Zoo incident? What should happen to the individuals who hit the lions with snowballs? Sound off below.