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Woman Killed by Tiger – Badaling Wildlife Park Investigation Completed

Investigation of the incident where a woman was attacked by a tiger when she got out of the car at the Badaling Wildlife Park (八达岭动物园) in Beijing this summer has been completed.

Manya Koetse



Investigation of the incident where a woman was attacked by a tiger when she got out of the car at the Badaling Wildlife Park (八达岭动物园) in Beijing this summer has been completed. It concludes that the wildlife park is not to blame.

On July 23, 2016, a visitor of the Badaling Wildlife Park in Beijing was attacked by a tiger when she got out of her car in the safari area of the zoo. When the woman was dragged away by the animal, her husband and mother also left the vehicle to come to her rescue.

The incident resulted in the death of the elder woman (Mrs. Zhou), while the younger woman (Mrs. Zhao) was left seriously injured.

News of the tragedy soon triggered discussions on Sina Weibo about the safety at Badaling Wildlife Park, a zoo where the director was killed by one of the elephants in March. In 2009 and 2014, two other persons were also attacked and killed by one of the zoo’s tigers. Many netizens wondered who was to blame for the fatal incident: was it the zoo or its visitors?


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Footage shows the woman leaving the car and being dragged away by a tiger on July 23.


The incident’s investigation team has now completed its report, of which the results were made public earlier today. The reports identifies the following reasons for causing the incident:

First, Mrs. Zhao did not comply with the Badaling Wildlife Park’s strict guidelines not to leave the car, which led to her being attacked and wounded by the tiger. Second, the woman who got out of the car to save her daughter (Mrs. Zhou) also did not follow the park’s rules that strictly prohibit anybody from exiting their vehicle, resulting in her death.


The report states that before entering the park’s wildlife area, visitors are clearly informed of the park’s rules by the zoo’s staff and through leaflets. Those who drive into the wildlife park with their own car, like Mrs. Zhao, also have to sign a waiver of liability. The park has clear warning signs telling visitors not to exit their vehicle, and that park rangers will come to the rescue in case of an emergency.

The investigation team therefore concludes that the Badaling Wildlife Park bears no responsibility for what happened on July 23.

The fatal minutes on July 23

The report describes how the family, consisting of the woman Mrs. Zhao, her husband Mr. Liu, her mother Mrs. Zhou, and their 2-year-old infant, entered the park at around 14.00 on July 23rd. Before entering the premises, they were informed of the park rules, which, amongst others, state that visitors cannot leave their vehicles, feed the animals or open their car windows. They also signed the waiver.

At 15:00, Mrs. Zhao exited the car on the passenger side to change seats with her husband, who was driving the car. When park rangers saw her exiting the car, they honked to warn her to get back in the car. The two vehicles behind their car also honked to alert the woman, who was soon dragged away by the tiger who had come up behind her. Mrs. Zhou and Mr. Liu also left the vehicle to go after her. Park rangers immediately drove to the scene and asked for assistance. This whole scene took place within a time frame of less than half a minute.

The report also describes that at the scene, Mrs. Zhou tried to smack the tiger who attacked her daughter, when a second tiger approached and bit her in the back. When a third tiger approached and also attacked the older woman, she gave up her fight.

As two park patrol cars arrived at the scene, Mr. Liu asked the drivers to get out of their cars to help. In accordance with park rules, they ordered Mr. Liu to get in the car immediately and to leave the scene, which he did at 15.02. Within the 14 minutes that followed, park rangers restrained a total of ten tigers by leading them into cages and the tiger habitat so that they could safely exit their vehicles. By 15.16, they found that Mrs. Zhou no longer had a pulse, while Mrs. Zhao was still alive, although her face was severely mauled.

The two women were immediately brought to the hospital, where they arrived at 15.44. The 57-year-old Mrs. Zhou was officially pronounced dead at 17.12. The 32-year-old Mrs. Zhao could be rescued despite her severe injuries, and by now has been discharged from the hospital.

Although the report does not hold Badaling Wildlife Park liable for the incident, it does stress that the park needs to further increase the safety of visitors by strengthening awareness of the existing rules, and emphasizes that park rangers need further training on how to respond in the case of emergency.

On Weibo, the completed investigation results were soon shared amongst netizens, receiving thousands of comments within a couple of hours.

The majority of Chinese netizens seem to agree with the report’s outcome.
“The zoo nor the tigers are to blame!” they respond with smileys and happy emojis.

“It is so clear how this happened, did they really need such a long time to investigate?”, some commenters wonder. “The outcome is fair!”, is what many Weibo users say.

But not everybody agrees with the report. “Firstly, a wild life park should not be used for people’s entertainment,” one netizen says: “Secondly, if a mother sees her child being dragged away and exits the car to help her, can you still blame her for not following the rules?”

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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China Health & Science

No Need for Plague Panic? China’s Trending Plague Outbreak

After the Year of the Pig brought swine flue, some fear the Year of the Rat will bring the ‘rat plague.’

Manya Koetse




For the past nine days, during which three cases of the plague have been reported in China, the deadly bubonic plague has become a hot topic on Chinese social media.

The topic first made headlines on November 12, when Chinese state media announced that two people, a husband and wife from Inner Mongolia, were transported to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with the pneumonic plague.

The couple reportedly got sick after eating raw marmot kidney.

A 55-year old hunter from the same region, the Inner Mongolian Xilingol League, was later also diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit meat.

The bubonic plague, also called the ‘Black Death,’ is an infectious disease that is known to have caused one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, killing millions of people in 14th century Europe.

News of the three cases of bubonic plague reminded many of the 2003 SARS panic; an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused over 8000 cases that year.

The World Health Organisation criticized China at the time for covering up the scale of the problem, with officials conceding in the Spring of 2003 that China’s SARs problem was “nearly 10 times worse than had been admitted.”

Current online reports on the bubonic plague in China stress that there is no reason for panic, with a hospital spokesperson confirming that the situation is “under control.”

42 people who are known to have come into contact with the Chinese patients have all been quarantined and were not found to have any symptoms of catching the disease.

Chinese (state) media channels are spreading social media posts this week that mainly emphasize that the plague “can be prevented, controlled, and managed,” and that it can be effectively treated.

“Don’t panic over plague outbreak,” Sina News headlines, with People’s Daily posting on Weibo that, according to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “there is no need to worry.”

The bubonic plague primarily affects rodents and other animals, with animals – and incidentally humans – usually contracting the infection through insects such as (rat) fleas. This form of plague is highly contagious – can spread through coughing – and could be fatal within days if left untreated (Benedict 1996, 4).

Mammals such as rabbits or marmots, as eaten by the recent Chinese patients, but also rats, squirrels, gerbils, mice, etc., can all harbor the disease.

Although the disease is increasingly rare, and for many is something from the history books, there were still 3248 cases worldwide between 2010 and 2015, leading to 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Although Chinese media stress that there is no need to panic over the recent outbreak of the bubonic plague, many netizens still fear an epidemic, making comments such as: “The Year of the Pig brought the [African] swine fever, now the plague is starting just before the Year of the Rat!” (The word for ‘plague’ in Chinese is 鼠疫 shǔyì, literally meaning ‘rat plague’ or ‘mouse plague’).

Others are asking questions such as: “Do we risk the plague more if we have mice in the house?” and “How can we prevent getting it?”

Meanwhile, according to Jiemian News reports, the area in Inner Mongolia where the patients originally contracted the illness is currently under strict control by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture; some roads are closed off, and there’s temperature screening for those taking public transport.

The area has seen four cases of plague over the past decades, the most recent one before this month being in 2004.

Last news on the current three patients was from last Saturday, when it was reported that at least one of the patients is now in stable condition.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo


Benedict, Carol Ann. 1996. Bubonic Plague in Nineteenth Plague in Nineteenth Century China. Stanford University Press.

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China Books & Literature

“The End of an Era”? – Beijing Bookworm Closes Its Doors

Manya Koetse



As news of The Bookworm’s closing makes its rounds on social media, Beijingers have responded in shock, mourning the loss of an iconic and meaningful meeting place for book(worm) lovers around the city.

The Bookworm Beijing, at Nansanlitun Road, is a bookshop, library, bar, restaurant and events space that has become a center of cultural exchange for Beijing’s foreign community since 2005.

The location is a beating heart of Beijing’s literary world; a place where writers, journalists, students, diplomats, academics, and all kinds of people – both foreign and Chinese – come together to exchange knowledge, read, and sit down for a glass of wine.

Today, the Bookworm announced its sudden closure via WeChat, writing:

It is with heavy hearts that we are forced to announce the impending closure of The Bookworm Beijing after 14 wonderful years in Courtyard No. 4 off SouthSanlitun Road. Despite our best efforts, we appear to have fallen prey to the ongoing cleanup of “illegal structures”, and we have not been able to secure an extension of our lease.”

The announcement further says that the location will be forced to suspend operations “most probably” as of Monday, November 11, and that the Bookworm will attempt to reorganize and find a new location.

News of the Bookworm’s closing has been becoming a topic of conversation on various social media sites from WeChat to Twitter and Weibo.

Famous Chinese journalist and author Luo Changping (罗昌平) writes on Weibo: “The Bookworm is forced to close! It used to be next door to my former office, and it was once like my living room. Sigh.”

Shanghai comedian Storm Xu called the closure of the Beijing Bookworm “the end of an era,” saying he looks back on many good memories there.

“They had many events, good food, special books; I used to go there a few times per year,” one person writes. “This really is so sad,” other Weibo users respond.

There are also various Weibo commenters who also mention that news of Bookworm’s closing comes just a day after the news that publisher of magazine-books and online bookseller Duku Books (读库) is forced to close its Beijing warehouse for the sixth time.

Over the past decade, many popular venues in Beijing have been forced to close their doors or relocate. Beijing hangouts such as Bed Bar, Salud, Vineyard Cafe, 2 Kolegas, Jiangjinjiuba, Mao Livehouse, Hercules, Aperativo, The Bridge Cafe, Great Leap Brewery Sanlitun, Jing-A Taproom 1949, and many others have all been closed over the past years.

Nightlife hotspot Sanlitun bar street was demolished and bricked up in 2017 as part of the mission of the city management to gentrify the area.

Changing Sanlitun in 2017.

The demolishment of “illegal structures” in the city has been an ongoing effort of the local government for years. These efforts became especially visible in late 2017 when people in Beijing’s Daxing area faced a large-scale evacuation campaign after a big fire broke out there on November 18, killing 19 people.

The large-scale evacuation campaign was also expanded to other areas of Beijing in a campaign by the municipal authorities aimed at unlicensed developments to target “illegal structures” and “buildings with potential fire hazards.”

But many people on Weibo and WeChat questioned if the campaign was actually more about politics than about safety concerns – something that was strongly refuted by state media outlets at the time.

These questions will remain unanswered, also for the Bookworm. Is its closure really about closing down an “illegal structure,” or are there more politically-motivated considerations playing a role here? On Weibo, some commenters say the location is closed down for being a home of free discussions and “free thinking,” while others say that no matter what the place is, the building’s safety and legal status is what matters here.

Perhaps the future will tell. We surely hope the Bookworm will soon pop up and open its doors in another location very soon.

Those who are interested can support the Bookworm by coming by and buying books, which will be heavily discounted, until November 11.

By Manya Koetse

Images: Bookworm images by The Bookworm, edited by What’s on Weibo.
Sanlitun Image: Might have been taken by Manya in Beijing 2017, but we’re not 100% sure so let us know if we’re mistaken.

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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