Officials with the San Antonio Zoo say they're "incredibly disappointed" with China's decision to reverse a 25-year-old ban on the use of tiger bone and rhino horn for cultural, medicinal and healing purposes.
"This decision directly and blatantly contradicts China's recent and long overdue agreeance to ban its domestic ivory trade, and puts great strain on conservation efforts around the world," said Tim Morrow, CEO and executive director of the San Antonio Zoo.
Zoo officials called China's traditional medicine belief system a "cancer devouring our wildlife."
China's State Council released a statement Monday, saying rhino and tiger parts could now be used "in medical research and healing" if they come from farmed animals.
"The science is very clear on this issue. There is absolutely no medical or healing benefit from rhino horn or tiger bone," said Dr. Dante Fenolio, vice president of conservation and research at the San Antonio Zoo.
According to a press release from the zoo, the last Northern white rhino male died this year, leaving only two females of its species on the planet. The West African black rhino has been pronounced extinct. In the wild there are:
- Fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos
- 67 Javan rhinos
- About 700 Eastern black rhinos
- 20,000 Northern White Rhinos
- Fewer than 5,000 tigers
"It is our hope that citizens of this planet and governments awake to the current extinction crisis and help end extinction of wildlife on this planet. The loss of wildlife may well lead to and be an indicator of, our own extinction," said Morrow.