A new video circulating on Chinese social media showing a 9-year-old girl walking a tiger cub on a leash has raised concerns among some netizens.
Sun Xiaojing, the girl in the video, is the daughter of a zookeeper at Donghu Zoo in Quanzhou, Fujian province, China.
She has been taking care and playing with the cub since it was born three months ago, according to South China Morning Post.
“She has been feeding the cub bottled milk, bathing and playing with it,” her father, identified as Sun, told Quanzhou Evening Post.
Xiaojing takes the 3-month-old tiger cub, whom she named Huniu, meaning “tiger girl” in Chinese, out for walks and plays with the animal near the entrance of the zoo every morning after it eats breakfast.
While many netizens expressed concerns about the safety of the child, Xiaojing’s father said that the tiger cub poses no danger to the little girl.
He continued to explain that they are raising the cub after its two siblings died shortly after they were born, Shanghaiist reported.
Huniu was separated from her 9-year-old Siberian tiger parents after her two siblings were accidentally smothered by them.
“My daughter’s classmates think tigers are scary but Huniu is her friend,” he said. “Huniu is really playful and likes to be scratched on the belly. She runs to my daughter the moment she comes back from school.”
Zoogoers also became worried after finding out the tiger cub was released from her cage and put on a leash.
“Huniu is a beast after all,” a local resident, identified as surnamed Lin, told the news outlet. “They better put her in a cage.”
Meanwhile, the zookeeper reassured visitors that Huniu, who consumes 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of meat every day, will be placed back inside the cage once her teeth start to mature and harden.
Images via YouTube / CGTN