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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
Animal advocate fights for a naturally balanced world
     2014-July-11  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Cao Zhen

    caozhen0806@126.com

    ZHANG YUANYUAN, a devoted animal advocate in Shenzhen, observed the recent protest campaign against the dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, in June. Unlike hundreds of nationwide advocates who howled against vendors there, she listened to locals, questioned officials, recorded videos and dug deep into the hidden side of the festival.

    As the China director of ACTAsia for Animals, a British animal protection organization, Zhang collected information from different sides at this year’s festival. “I visited Yulin to learn the attitudes of diners, vendors, residents, officials and animal activists,” said Zhang.

    “If I don’t understand their thinking process, I cannot make a step-by-step plan to end the festival. Isolated campaigns like protesting on that day or saving individual dogs from the market was not enough,” said Zhang, who is hoping to develop a longtime strategy to end the festival.

    Big hill to climb

    The annual event that involves savoring dog meat, litchis and strong liquor on the summer solstice (which was on June 21 this year) is a cherished tradition among Yulin locals. Animal welfare activists head to the small town every year to try to stop it. This year’s efforts included open letters to the Yulin government and invitations to celebrities to condemn the practice online.

    Zhang does not know how long it will take animal advocates to end the festival or dog eating in other areas, but she said they would continue lobbying the Yulin government to ban dog meat sales and to tell the public that eating dogs is uncivilized.

    “Evidence shows a link between animal abuse and violence between humans in Western countries. Cats and dogs are close companions for humans and also experience pain and fear. So watching them slaughtered can harm the mental health of humans and leads to violence between humans,” said Zhang, adding that children were witnesses to the cruel slaughter of dogs in many Yulin streets.

    She also emphasized that poor rabies control in China is a big danger for diners. “I talked to farmers in Yulin who told me that they sold dogs after raising them for two years without giving them any vaccinations. There’s no dog meat sanitation inspection procedure in China, so selling dog meat is technically illegal.”

    Some locals defended the festival as part of the area’s cultural heritage and clashed with animal advocates this year. “Like wearing animal fur, eating cats and dogs is a personal choice, but if the whole world is progressing toward civilization, why don’t we progress with it? When more people are aware of animal abuse, they will not want to be cruel to animals and stop eating cats and dogs,” said Zhang.

    Advocating scientifically

    For 12 years, Zhang has been spreading the message of animal welfare, advocating a naturally balanced world where animals and humans live together. However, her early relations with animals were built when she did animal testing for her biology and medicine studies during college. “Like many medical students, I had mysophobia. I frequently washed my hands. I didn’t like animals and never wanted to make them part of my life,” Zhang recalled.

    She says now, though, that animal testing can be reduced or avoided if people redesign their experiments scientifically. “Scientists can avoid animal testing if similar analysis is done beforehand. There are detailed laws on animal testing in Western countries because they want to limit animal abuse. The laws in China are not very strict, so many Western pharmacy companies do animal testing in China, and our country is also where Western brands produce and process furs,” said Zhang.

    In 2001, Zhang’s husband brought home a cat without asking her, saying he had wanted to raise a pet since childhood. After living with the cat for a year, Zhang’s mysophobia went away. In 2002, After finishing her postgraduate studies at the Sun Yat-sen University of Medical Sciences, Zhang worked as an assistant at Tsinghua Yuanxing Pharmaceutical Company in Shenzhen and was later promoted as a human resources manager.

    Hoping to exchange pet-keeping knowledge, she and some friends self-financed the launch of szcat.org. She said because of her clinical medicine background, she always advocated raising pets in a scientific way on the website.

    In December 2002, Zhang noticed an article in a Guangzhou magazine that said eating cats could nourish humans in winter. Shocked, she soon organized several animal protection groups from Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Macao and Hong Kong to call for respect for animals at a press conference.

    “Since then, szcat.org changed from a leisurely, pet-raising platform to an animal protection website, and we began to pay attention to homeless cats,” said Zhang. “With the help of Hong Kong animal welfare associations, I learned about spaying and neutering and began to cooperate with local pet hospitals that sponsor our website by giving free sterilization operations to our members’ cats.”

    Szcat hit local headlines in March 2009 when the urban village of Gangxia was demolished for renovation and Zhang organized a group of volunteers to save abandoned cats locked in empty buildings.

    “We contacted property management staff members several days ahead of the demolition, but they ignored us. Finally, we convinced the property manager to allow us to enter the abandoned buildings,” said Zhang. The volunteers then knocked on doors one by one and even imitated mice to find the cats. They saved 16 cats.

    This year, Baishizhou is going to be demolished. Zhang contacted community staff members last year, helping them spread the message to residents to not abandon their pets.

    Knowledge matters

    Since 2006, Zhang had been a volunteer of ACTAsia and organized training sessions for animal advocates, veterinarians and community workers throughout China. She later formally set up the Chinese division of the British charity in Shenzhen. The organization focuses on training animal advocates to fight animal abuse and educating the public about respect for animal life.

    Zhang said with her human resources experience, she knows the importance of developing animal advocates. As early as 2003, she noticed that many animal welfare volunteers worked day and night for animals but could hardly gain any support from their families. “Some of them saved too many abandoned pets and kept them at home, which made them in a mess. The lack of experience and knowledge on how to protect animals and fight animal suffering made their lives harder,” said Zhang.

    She added that many Chinese think animal advocates are extremists who regard animals as a priority. “We don’t regard animals as a priority, but understanding and nurturing the relationship between humans and animals is a priority. We promote getting along with animals in a scientific way, educate children on why and how they should be friendly to animals and we encourage people to change their consumer habits, such as not wearing animal furs and not watching animal circuses. Animal protection doesn’t mean stopping all the harms done to animals at once, but reducing animal harms in an orderly manner.”

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