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Father defends girl's stunt with wolves

By Shao Wei  (China Daily)

08:34, April 09, 2012

Zhu Yongsheng and his daughter Zhu Lin cuddle a wolf at the family's animal training base in Urumqi, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Saturday. (Zhang Wande / for China Daily)

Xinjiang animal trainer says his daughter was in no danger in cage

It is a sight that would terrify almost any parent: Their child locked inside a cage with large predators.

Not for Zhu Yongsheng. In fact, it would be no surprise to find the recent pictures of his daughter locked in with wolves plastered in a family photo album under the words "happy memories".

The animal trainer has faced a storm of criticism for a stunt on April 1 that saw 10-year-old Zhu Lin, clad only in army fatigues, play with - and even kiss - the beasts in front of an audience at a dog show in Northwest China.

Many people reacted angrily after seeing images of the performance online, with some accusing Zhu Yongsheng of child abuse.

"The father is the trainer, so he should be the one in the cage," read one typical post on Sina Weibo, the popular micro-blogging website. "She (his daughter) will be damaged both physically and mentally for a lifetime."

However, father and daughter have both strongly dismissed any claim that the stunt was risky, suggesting that the furor has stemmed from misinformation in the media.

"They (the wolves) are my brothers," Zhu Lin said on Saturday.

As she spoke, she scratched behind the ear of one of the 2-year-old wolves she was pictured with. Both have been with the family since they were pups. "We're very close. They know me."

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