Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Tuesday, 26 July 2005 13:37 UK

Dogs' fate gnaws at HK Disneyland

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts President Jay Rasulo (left) at a publicity event in Hong Kong, July 2005
Publicity is well underway for Hong Kong Disneyland's opening
The fate of dogs roaming the site of Hong Kong's Disneyland theme park is causing embarrassment to the entertainment group.

Since May, Disney has called in local officials to round up and destroy at least 40 dogs, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

Disney, whose cartoons often portray cute animal characters, said the packs of dogs posed a threat to its staff.

"We felt that they posed a safety threat to our staff, so we asked the government to take them away," said Esther Wong, a spokeswoman for Hong Kong Disneyland.

Previously, the theme park operator has dropped shark fin soup from park menus in Hong Kong following pressure from campaigners.

Dangerous

Albert Hui, a spokesman for Hong Kong's agriculture department, said 45 dogs had been rounded up at the Disneyland site since May, the Associated Press reported.

Mickey Mouse T-shirts on sale in Hong Kong, July 2005
Disney hopes to appeal to Chinese children

He added that some of the animals had since been destroyed, though there were no records of how many.

"They're unofficial guard dogs," insisted Sally Andersen, of Hong Kong Dog Rescue.

"They are fed and looked after by the workers. They're friendly and used to humans."

Disney has denied that it used the animals as guard dogs at the site that is due to open on 12 September.

Shopping and leisure

Hong Kong Disneyland will be the entertainment group's second theme park in Asia, after Tokyo.

Disney hopes to tap into Hong Kong's appeal to newly-wealthy mainland Chinese and their often-pampered only children as a shopping and leisure centre.

The resort is being built on Hong Kong's outlying Lantau island, where semi-wild dogs are common.

This is the second animal-rights embarrassment Disney has suffered over the $1.8bn (1bn) theme park.

Last month, it withdrew shark fin soup from planned banquet menus after campaigners criticised the dish - a local luxury - as cruel and destructive.

SEE ALSO
HK Disney scraps shark's fin soup
25 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
HK Disney answers soup critics
09 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Shark fins land HK Disney in soup
24 May 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Disney appeals to China's youth
23 Sep 04 |  Business
Taking the shark out of soup
27 Aug 02 |  Science/Nature

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