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WWF denies connection with disputed animal TV show

2015-03-27 08:48 Global Times Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

A nature conservation organization said Thursday that it disagrees with the content of a popular reality TV show in China featuring interactions between celebrities and animals, after its ambassador took part in the show.

"WWF does not participate in Wonderful Friends, nor does it agree with its content, which involves animal performances," said a press release sent by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to the Global Times via e-mail on Thursday.

Wonderful Friends, a TV show jointly produced by the Guangzhou-based Chimelong Safari Park and Hunan TV, has come under fire from animal right activists since it began airing on January 24.

The six celebrities on the show - including pop singer Li Yuchun, who is also a WWf ambassador - are required to accomplish a mission together with animals in each episode, including training elephants to do a headstand or taking chimpanzees clothes shopping.

Neither the show nor the zoo could be reached as of press time.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) also criticized the show on March 17 for dressing up chimpanzees and orangutans in human clothes and placing animals in stressful and harmful situations in order to create "entertaining" story lines.

It particularly criticized Li for "helping to popularize these misleading and inhuman practices." It also requested the immediate discontinuation of the program and similar shows, and insisted that all animals held in captivity be provided with the highest level of care and husbandry.

Yan Dianya, one of the show's producers, explained previously that the show has not violated China's animal protection law or coerced animals into unnatural behavior, reported the Beijing Youth Daily.

Yan also said that the purpose of the show is to appeal to the public to protect animals, and that the controversy does not change this good intention.

"As an ambassador of WWF, Li participated in the show to observe how animals live. I think her endeavor and performance should remove all misunderstanding and disagreement by others," Yan added.

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