Tiger Bone Wine

Every country has poorly written laws with loopholes that allow industrious entrepreneurs to make money anyway possible, and exploiting wild animals is one way to make that money.

For instance, in May 2003, the San Diego Wild Animal Park in the U.S. came under intense criticism from animal welfare group, and in February 1999, the San Jose Mercury News published a series of articles by Linda Goldstein entitled “Zoo Animals to Go”.

Goldstein alleged that major U.S. zoos in the United States purposely overbreed some animals to produce babies that are popular with the public and bring in crowds. Older and less popular animals are quietly discarded and often end up at rundown roadside zoos and exotic animal auctions.

In addition, unwanted but healthy animals were euthanized at the Detroit Zoo during the 1990s, and a handful of dealers preferred by the major zoos have become wealthy from the sales of unwanted exotics given or sold to them by the zoos, Goldstein claimed. – Entertainment Animals – Zoos

In China, animal welfare activists allege that a wildlife park in southeast China has been farming tigers. The Guilin tiger park then claims it is a research establishment devoted to the welfare and survival of the big cat.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reported from Guilin that the tigers are declawed and defanged and threatened with sticks to perform tricks for audiences.

However, Chinese animal welfare activists claim that this is nothing more than a farm producing tigers for their valuable body parts. To support that claim, in January 2015, Yale’s environment360 reported, “The number of tigers living in the wild has dropped to the shockingly low figure of 3,200, down from 100,000 a century ago. But nearly as shocking is this statistic: An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 tigers are being farmed today in China, their bones steeped in alcohol to make tiger bone wine, their meat sold, and their skins turned into rugs for members of China’s wealthy elite.”

Hua Ning of International Fund for Animal Welfare says people hear about these farms and think that the tigers will not perish. She says the truth is this park has about 1,500 tigers and many are abused.

Al Jazeera’s Birtley says that killing tigers in China is illegal and offenders face stiff jail terms, but allowing tigers to die from starvation and neglect is not technically killing. That is the loophole in China’s law that critics say is being exploited at one wildlife park in Guilin.

The reality is that tigers are worth more dead than alive.

There are only a few hundred tigers at this park on display for visitors. Birtley was told the rest were used for research in a large section of the park closed to the public.

One product this park sells is wine made from tiger bones. One bottle may sell for $250 dollars.

Traditional Chinese medicine uses all parts of the tiger, but the bones are the most valuable part of the animal. It is believed these bones prolong life, cure rheumatism, arthritis and solve sexual problems.

Twenty-five kilos (55.1 pounds) of tiger bones will make enough wine to earn $300 thousand dollars.

Meanwhile, Animal News reports that China’s government has urged zoos to stop serving wild animal products and holding wildlife performances in an attempt to improve the treatment of tigers, bears and other animals amid concerns over widespread abuse in zoos and wildlife parks.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

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4 Responses to Tiger Bone Wine

  1. Debbie says:

    Lloyd, thank you for bringing to light the terrible plight of animals in Chinese zoos, but also thank you for putting it into perspective – all countries have issues with abuse of animals.
    Too often ‘negative’ stories about China are an excuse to “China-bash”.
    Personally I stay right away from zoos in China, the maltreatment of animals is nauseating.

    • I had an obvious China hater who left a vulgar trollish comment recently (and I suspect I know who it was by his real name—not the obviously, insulting trash name he used in the comment). I haven’t made it public yet, but will through a copy and paste (without links) when I write the review for “The Man Who Loved China” by Simon Winchester. An incredible book by an incredible man, the fantastic story of Joseph Needham (1900 – 1995), the brilliant, genius, eccentric scientist who unlocked the mysteries of China and revealed a truth that most in the West (and at the time even in China) will not want to know or accept. I listened to the book on CDs and then had to buy a hard copy and now also have a paperback that I can refer to while I’m writing the review.

      Needham dedicated the better part of his life writing a series of book on Chinese history (the 25 volumes of Science and Civilisation in China). He proved beyond doubt—except for China bashing trolls—that China was the most technologically and scientifically advanced country in the world for more than fifteen hundred years. And he went on to consider another quite different question, equally important, and centered his historical research on it: “why, between the first century BC and the fifteenth century AD, Chinese civilization was much more efficient than occidental in applying human natural knowledge to practical human needs”. In other words, after discovering the truth that too many in the West want to deny and/or ignore, he wanted to know why China suddenly stopped behind the most scientifically and technologically advanced country on the planet. I think I know the answer to his question that he seems to have never answered for himself. I told my wife what I thought and she agreed with me. I’ll reveal it in the book review.

      For instance, before China was unified, centuries before the birth of Christ, China tamed one of its most dangerous western rivers with a diversion project that even today would be considered advanced and after more than 2,000 years, it’s still being maintained, working and in use. It would be more than a thousand years before anyone in the west would even consider doing something simliar to control flooding on such a massive scale.

      Here’s Needham’s page on Amazon:



      • Debbie says:

        HI Lloyd, it never ceases to amaze me how the most thinking, liberal of people often seem to have a blind eye when it comes to China, swallowing the most ridiculous propaganda from the west without question – and thats from people who ‘should’ know better, let alone out and out racists like the person you describe above.

        I’ve read Simon Winchestor’s book some years back when it first came out and totally loved it – he writes so well – and it brought the amazing Joseph Needham to life. It’s a book I’d love to read again but alas, its stashed away somewhere with all my stuff in storage. Fyi I’m ordering your wife Anchee’s books for holiday reading when i go home in the northern summer.

        The Dujiang water conservation project is amazing, unfortunately I missed seeing it the times I have been in Sichuan.sometimes I do wonder though, what happened to this civiilzation that had the most amazing architecture when I travel through the forest of high rise that lines the Yangtze all the way up to Nanjing and beyond.

        I look forward to reading your book!

      • Thank you. I hope you are not disappointed.

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