A video of "chubby" Siberian tigers taking down a drone, complete with a silly soundtrack — like so much viral content — is more than what it seems.
While the video's been shared far and wide, but the origins of the footage have been a cause for concern for a while now.
As science journalist John R. Platt tweeted, the footage is "obviously a tiger farm."
Reminder: China has an estimated *7* wild tigers left. Many more in this video = obviously a tiger farm. They'll be turned into bone & wine https://t.co/7hxmkSDei2
— John R Platt (@johnrplatt) February 23, 2017
Heilongjiang Province in China is the home of Harbin Siberian Tiger Park. It's one of the two biggest tiger-breeding facilities in the country, according to a 2013 report on the country's clandestine tiger trade by the Environmental Investigation Agency.
The park is advertised as a tourist attraction, where visitors can offer meat and even live animals, to the tigers.
As per a report by McClatchy, the number of visitors doesn't cover the cost of feeding or breeding hundreds of tigers each year. The real money comes from the sale of tiger pelts, tiger bone wine, and other products that have been banned in China.
McClatchy visited Harbin Siberian Tiger Park, and reported bottles of tiger bone wine on display — albeit not advertised as tiger bone wine, but some had images of tigers on the packaging.
Some of these "bone strengthening wines" advertise the use of tiger bone in its manufacture to distinguish itself from other wines in its category, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency's report.
The same park was under scrutiny after conservation groups were outraged at images of obese tigers, thought to be seriously ill.
Last word on tiger-drone video: Chinese media often share cute tiger videos. They're all propaganda to hide the reality of tiger farms.
— John R Platt (@johnrplatt) February 24, 2017
Since 1993, there has been a ban on the trade of tiger bones, but the state has encouraged the growth of tiger farms. In 2007, India and the UK called on China to ban tiger farms due to concerns over the impact it had on the wild population.