A Chinese zoo has come under fire for giving their lion and tiger cubs live rabbits for hunting practise as the young predators were presented to the public for the first time.
Introducing seven baby tigers and four lion cubs to visitors, a zoo in Tsingtao, China, released a number of rabbits into the enclosure.
The two-month-old cubs could be seen chasing after the rabbit and biting it across the neck after hunting it down.
Poor bunny: Two tiger cubs attack a live rabbit released into their enclosure for ‘outdoor survival training’ at a zoo in Tsingtao, China
However, zoo-keepers have defended the actions, saying that the young animals were ‘unlikely’ to harm the rabbits.
The zoo said the rabbits had been released into the enclosure to provide ‘outdoor survival training’ for the young lions and tigers so they could practise hunting.
Zoo supervisor Cao Yu said: ‘These lion and tiger cubs don’t proper teeth yet, so they are not likely to harm the rabbits,’Zoo supervisor Cao Yu said.
‘Trainings as such can help increase the activity level of these animals and to improve their hunting ability.’
Run rabbit run: The hunt took place as seven baby tigers and four lion cubs were introduced to the public for the first time at the zoo
Defence: The zoo defended releasing rabbits into the enclosure in front of the crowds, claiming that the cubs – despite having very sharp milk teeth – did not have fully developed ‘proper’ ones yet
Too little too late? It is unclear whether the rabbit made it through the hunt, but the zoo said it was ‘unlikely’ to have been harmed
Just like humans, lions and tigers are born without teeth, however a set of razor-sharp milk teeth begin to grow within just a few days.
The animals’ permanent teeth then grow behind the milk teeth – like in humans – which then fall out at about six months.
However, by the time the milk teeth fall out, the permanent teeth are so far developed that the animals are never left with gaps or missing teeth.