Outrage has occurred after a series of photos surfaced showing Hangzhou Zoo visitors throwing snowballs at lions this week.
The photos were reportedly taken on Jan. 5 and posted on the Chinese site Sina Weibo where they were reposted and received thousands of comments about the abuse, reported China Daily. Xinhua News Agency reported that it was forwarded more than 75,000 times.
One user for example, daomangquanfaguan wrote, "Mankind should learn to better respect nature and life when visiting zoos."
Xinhua News agency reported that the lions panicked after being hit with snowballs by zoo visitors and ran into a corner. The Global Times noted that in the end the male lion roared and stared down the visitors as they walked away.
Zoo breeder Zhu Yan said to Xinhua News agency that that the employees did not see the visitors throwing snowballs at the lions because they were clearing snow at the time.
"Although snowballs can't hurt large animals like lions, the behavior upset us nonetheless," Zhu said to Xinhua News agency. "Our animals should be treated fairly. We hope our visitors will use some self-discipline and be nicer to them."
The Huffington Post said that according to reports one visitor threw the first snow ball then others joined in.
This isn't the first time animal cruelty was reported at the Hangzhou Zoo.
One Reddit user Triviumsogerd said according to the Huffington Post. "The sad thing is, this is way better than what they normally throw. When I went LAST YEAR people were throwing anything they could get their hands on at the animals. Such as full plastic water bottles, coke cans, also full, rocks, and the worst part is NO ZOO STAFF WAS PRESENT."
See photos of the incident here.