Open Letter to Guangdong Chimelong Group

To: Mr. Su Zhigang, Chairman, Guangdong Chimelong Group, Yingbin Road, Panyu, Guangzhou

Nanyuki, July 7th 2015

Dear Mr.  Su Zhigang,

I am a documentary film maker working on a production documenting the wildlife trade for Swiss and German Television. I recently visited the head offices of Guangzhou Panyu Chang Long Safari World. Co. Ltd to ask some questions of the management. Questions regarding past and the future imports of endangered species into China and Chang Long Safari World, as well as your new safari park development at Qingyuan city and Chimelong Ocean Kingdom at Zhuhai.

I first approached a Mr. Chen at the information desk (tel 15013931779) regarding an appointment for an interview with a company spokesperson. After some phone calls he asked me to write down some questions which I did. Later in the morning I called to try to confirm an appointment but received no answer. We then approached another help desk to ask for the location of the administrative offices where we made the same request. After a long wait we met a Mr. Dany who spoke some English and who we were informed by the reception staff was the assistant of the General Manager of the Safari World. I provided a business card without getting one in return. Mr. Dany confirmed that he had received the questions I had written down at the information desk and yes, the park expected some elephants from Zimbabwe. However any further questions regarding past elephant imports or the status of the proposed imports of gorillas he said he would need clarification and went off and never came back.

In the absence of any detailed feedback I would like to use this route to provide the management the right to respond to a range of questions and allegations:


  • How many elephants has the Chimelong group (via it Safari Park) imported in the past and how many is it presently in the process of importing from Zimbabwe?
  • Will all these elephants be retained by the group or will some be sold on to third parties?
  • Where will these elephants be kept (we understand that these elephants will be part of a new safari park being developed by the Changlong Group and that it will be called the ‘Chimelong International Forest Resort’ which will be based in Qingyuan city)?
  • How many elephants and other imported species are presently housed at the new Quarantine facility at Qingyuan?
  • Will all these elephants be trained to perform in the shows? How many qualified elephant trainers are on the payroll of your group and how many have worked with African elephants?
  • Can copies of the corresponding CITES export/ import permit be provided to establish, if the animals were imported as CITES I or II listed species, the source and purpose code and the general validity of the export permits issued by the Zimbabwean Management Authority? The ones we have seen for past imports cannot possibly be legal.
  • With the US authorities having upheld a contrary none detriment finding (NDF) on the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe on the grounds that the country does not have an adequate elephant management plan and that the countries conservation record on elephants is not adequate, how could the Chinese and Zimbabwean CITES Scientific authorities have issued NDF with the opposite conclusion to that of the US authorities? Can these none detriment findings be made available?


  • Safari World has a baby chimp and a baby orangutan in a nursery exhibit. When comparing the apes on display these appear to be different babies. The adult chimps on the island seem to be Western or Central Chimps and the baby in the nursery is of the Western sub species and it would appear that there is no breeding taking place. Can corresponding studbook data be provided for all these apes (taking into account the large scale illegal import of chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans by the Chinese Zoo community in the past)?
  • In the advertising photograph outside the park there is also the image of a bonobo (see attached) which no longer seems to exist at the facility. Could you explain the whereabouts or confirm that this bonobo is the one which is now on display at XINJIANG SAFARI PARK?
  • In an interview the head of ICCN in the DRC stated that he had visited your facilities on several occasions and an agreement had been reached for the scientific exchange of gorillas and other apes in return for white tigers to be housed at Kinshasa Zoo. Could you elaborate on these negotiations and the present status of this exchange?
  • We have a reliable source telling us of two gorillas and three chimpanzees having been exported from Syria to China (Guangzhou) last year. Could you elaborate and provide confirmation of the whereabouts of these apes?


  • We are presently producing a documentary on the trade in tigers and derivatives of tigers and when visiting your facilities we noticed a number of baby tigers many in incubators.
  • Can you elaborate on how many tigers you bred on average a year? Would you be willing to provide records of the end destinations of the 176 white tigers which your advertisements says you have bred in the past?
  • Are you aware of CITES resolution 14.69 which states: “Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives.”
  • Could you elaborate in what way your large scale breeding operation of tigers is supportive only to conserving wild tigers?


  • We are aware of the import of seven Orcas into China in 2014/2015. Can you please confirm these Orcas are at your facility at Hengqin in Zhuhai and confirm that they are all still alive and the date when they will go on public display?
  • Could you also provide the CITES import permit for these Orcas to demonstrate the legality of these imports?

Looking forward to your early reply.

Yours sincerely

Karl Ammann

Is this still Coco?
Is this still Liu Mao?
Where is this bonobo?
Why do all tiger mothers reject their cubs?
Writing down the questions for the requested interview
Taking photographs with the mechanical gorilla

Directive of the ministry of housing and urban development from 6/10/210

1. Conduct special inspection; concentrate on resolving prominent problems of zoo industry.

1) Inspect and ban all animal performance activities.

All zoos and other parks should start to inspect all kinds of animal performance activities immediately and ban all of them within 3 months since the issue of this guidance.

The reality on the ground

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