Merry-go-round powered by real ponies sparks outrage in China

PHOTO: Weibo

To attract visitors, Chinese shopping malls have been pulling out all the stops, such as installing outrageous features like polar bear aquariums and shark tanks.

Now, a shopping centre in Chengdu, China, is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Shoppers said they did a double-take when they walked past a merry-go-round in front of the building.

When they took a closer look, they realised that people were riding on the backs of four live ponies which were chained to metal poles and forced to trot repeatedly in circles.

When a video clip of the ride was circulated online, it sparked outrage among Chinese netizens.

"If you want to ride a horse, go to a riding centre," one wrote. "It is too much to chain live horses to this ride. These animals are not toys, to treat them in such a manner is inhumane."

The operator, however, said that its main business is equestrian training and that the merry-go-round is only a part of its offerings.

A staff member told the Chinese media that the ponies require daily walks, so the ride provided an opportunity for them to get some exercise.

But the experts have opposing views on the animals' treatment.

According to a Chinese report, an animal welfare expert doesn't see any major problems with this ride while a horse trainer said that it is cruel and doesn't help the ponies get stronger.

And as shocking as it is, this is not the first time live animals were used to power funfair rides.

In 2014, three ponies were similarly chained to a merry-go-round ride at a night market in Taiwan.