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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 14:41 GMT
Vietnam zoo auctioned dead tigers
Sumatran tiger, file image
Tigers are used in traditional Asian medicines
A zoo in Vietnam has admitted it auctioned dead tigers to animal trafficking gangs.

The revelation by Hanoi Zoo came after police raided a gang in the city, uncovering two live tigers, four dead ones and seven live bears.

The zoo said the tigers died of natural causes and were sold for about 125m dong ($7,800; 4,000) to raise money to buy more animals.

Under international law the animals should have been cremated.

Dang Gia Tung, the zoo's deputy director, told the Associated Press that the carcass of a one-year-old tiger was sold in November.

"We thought we should auction the tigers' bodies to raise funds to enrich the collection of animals at the zoo," he said.

His admission came after police arrested two men when they discovered two tigers in the back seat of a car in Hanoi.

The tigers had been drugged, but woke up during the police operation and had to be sedated again before they could be removed to an animal sanctuary.

Officers found four more tigers cut up in a freezer, as well as various bear, rhinoceros and elephant parts.

Observers say it is the latest indication of the extent of the illegal trade in endangered species in Vietnam.

Tigers are used in traditional medicine and can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market.

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