Tigers are being held captive in deplorable conditions and boiled to make aphrodisiac “tiger wine” in China.

For thousands of years, tigers have held a great power over humans. They have been deemed gods and healers – creatures of great importance. But not everyone treats tigers with the respect they deserve. Tigers are being held captive in deplorable conditions, then their bones boiled to make aphrodisiac wine sold in China.

The belief that tiger bones can improve sex drive is the reason for this horrific practice. Tiger bones are soaked in rice wine for eight years and then placed in bottles with snake extract and herbs to produce a brown liquor. It is then sold in bottles shaped like tigers to the public.

            Tiger Wine Sold in China

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In 1986, tigers were classified as endangered. The following year, cross-border trade of tiger parts was banned, but that never deterred China from distributing tiger medicines and wine to other countries. The tigers used for wine are kept on decrepit farms and live in cramped conditions without enough food.

One staff member of Xiongsen Park — the biggest tiger park in China–  told Daily Mail, “There are so many of them (tigers) here now it’s hard to feed them all and there isn’t enough food to go around.” In addition, they’re expected to perform for visitors, as many of these farms are disguised as wildlife parks for the public to visit. These degrading acts include jumping through hoops and standing on inflatable balls; a commander is present to direct the tigers. Despite the low volume of visitors, there are over 1,000 tigers kept in captivity.

An emaciated tiger sits in a cage at Xiongsen Park

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The tiger wine is currently sold for $500 a bottle, and business is continuing to grow. While the treatment of these animals is illegal, these parks are exempt from closing down due to poaching concerns. According to RT News, “China is a signatory of the international wildlife treaty, which bans tiger breeding, but makes an exemption for doing it in captivity under the belief that the parks reduce poaching.”

There is currently a petition on Change.org to put a stop to tiger farming. If enough people speak up, these farms may no longer be able to operate or expand to other areas of the world.

Sadly, China has no animal welfare laws in place to protect tigers and other creatures — but with a growing animal activist population in the country, that could change very soon.