"The conditions are appalling," Neale said recently."It's setting the bar at the lowest level." In a report released this month by Animals Asia, cases of poor conditions and mistreatment, including the declawing of tigers and bears, were plentiful during the last year at 13 state-run zoos and privately owned safari parks.Animal welfare activists say the report not only reflects the poor conditions at parks named by the agency, but also suggests that captive animals all across China may be facing conditions that are as bad or worse.

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"The scenario that Animals Asia describes is unfortunately very typical.

But to be honest, these are probably the best conditions there are for animals in China," Loeffler said, because the zoos and parks named in the report are among the largest and most well-financed in China.

"There are many places that are smaller and with less money, and the conditions there, we can only imagine what they are." The release of the report followed the deaths of two giant pandas in July.

One was accidentally killed by poisonous gas at the Jinan Zoo in Shandong province, and the other's death at the Beijing Zoo was caused by untreated intestinal complications that went unreported for almost 20 days.

At Chinese zoos, the animal keepers are the savage ones, activists say A report finds poor conditions and mistreatment at major zoos and safari parks, including the declawing of tigers and bears.

It's probably much worse at other places, animal advocates say.

In 10 years of visiting zoos and animal parks in China, David Neale has seen a bear punched in the head by a trainer, tigers whose teeth and claws had been removed and hundreds of animals that lived in filthy, unhealthy conditions.

Too many facilities take credit for simply keeping animals alive, while a large number rely on barbaric techniques such as whipping, beating and prodding with metal hooks to control them, said Neale, the animal welfare director of Animals Asia, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group.

Four months earlier, 11 Siberian tigers at the Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo in northeastern China starved to death.

After the deaths of the giant pandas, the State Forestry Administration issued a statement criticizing zoo managers for prioritizing profit over the well-being of The Frozen Zoo aiming to bring endangered species back from the brink San Diego Zoo began collecting ski samples from rare animals in 1972 in the hope they might be used to protect these endangered species in the future.

A breakthrough in stem-cell technology means that day is getting closer The inside of a metal box filled with liquid nitrogen and frozen to -173C (-280F) is hardly the ideal habitat for a large African mammal.