Meixin Red Wine Town theme park in Chongqing, China, ushered in the Chinese New Year in a very unusual, very problematic way by tying up and throwing a pig off a 68-metre-high bungee-jumping platform.
In a now-viral video, spectators can be heard laughing as the pig, dressed in a blue cape, squealed in fear while it was pushed off the platform. The stunt was meant to celebrate the end of the Year of the Pig and usher in the Year of the Rat, which starts on Chinese New Year (Saturday, January 25). It has now sharply divided the Chinese community online. Many netizens lashed out against the theme park for animal abuse, calling the act “sick” and “perverted.”
“Where are the pig-lovers, abusing a pig like that, and then sending it to the slaughterhouse, is there any humanity left?” one Weibo user asked.
“I just think the pig must have felt really helpless up there,” another netizen noted.
However, some argued that there was no harm in using the bungee-jumping pig as entertainment, since it was to be slaughtered anyway.
"The pig is fine, it has been sent to the slaughterhouse (laugh)," said another user.
“A pig that has bungee jumped can die with no regrets,” one said.
Others even lauded the publicity stunt, coming up with creative slogans for the theme park such as “even a pig dares to bungee jump, what about you?”
“This publicity stunt is impressive. I have even prepared slogans for you… the bungee jump can be introduced as: even a pig dares to bungee jump, what about you?”
“I think the theme park is pretty good at marketing. 1. They demonstrate the safety of the bungee jumping equipment to the public to dispel hesitation among tourists. 2. They use the bungee-jumping pig to attract attention on various media platforms, increasing the popularity of the theme park through entertainment and sensationalism.”
Responding to backlash from netizens and the local tourism board, the theme park issued an apology and explained that the falling pig was meant to signify falling pork prices as the Chinese pork market recovers from an outbreak of African swine fever last year. It also defended the stunt as “a form of entertainment,” claiming that the pig was unaware of any danger and that the safety equipment used on the pig was appropriately fastened. According to a spokesperson for the theme park, the pig was lively as usual after surviving the bungee jump, and was slaughtered shortly after.
This event is the latest in a string of shocking animal abuse incidents in China. Other viral videos of cruelty towards animals which have made their rounds on the Chinese internet include a woman boiling a live cat, and another woman stepping on a kitten while wearing high heels.
Despite public backlash against such actions, many believe that animal abuse incidents will continue to occur due to the lack of laws regulating the treatment of animals in China. The perpetrators of these abuse cases may be criticised by the public but are not legally prosecuted.
While this incident is bad press for Meixin Red Wine Town, the viral video has garnered massive attention for the theme park. If any press is good press, then the publicity stunt has indeed achieved its original intention; the theme park is now notorious both within China and abroad.
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