China lions

In a series of images released online earlier this week, a group of visitors to a zoo in Hangzhou, China, can be seen enjoying themselves by hurling snowballs at a defenseless lion and lioness in their enclosure.

The photos show snowballs hurtling toward the lions and exploding against their bodies as they stand feet below the cruel bombardiers, clearly distressed and with little more than angry roars with which to retaliate.

We must warn you that some readers may find the following images distressing.

▼A chubby-faced man throws a snowball at the captive felines

Chinese snowball thrower

▼Clumps of snow remain in the subdued animal’s mane

China lion male

▼Intimidated, the male lets out a roar, but at this distance its effects are minimal

China lions unhappy

▼ The pair cautiously watch the visitors above them

China lion looking scared

▼We’re glad someone’s having a good time…

China snowball throwers having fun  China snowball thrower

China lions

The photos were reportedly originally shared via Chinese social networking service Sina Weibo on January 7, and were quickly followed by a flood of comments condemning the animal-taunting men.

According to the Xhingua News Agency, the zoo staff had not seen anyone throwing snowballs at the lions, but, as many commented online, snowballs are nothing compared to what is often thrown the animals’ way by visitors taking advantage of their lofty perch.

We can’t help but wonder whether the men pictured here would enjoy themselves quite as much were they lowered into the enclosure with a bucket of snowballs and given the opportunity to go up against the lions on an even footing…

▼Hangzhou is a city situated in China’s Zhejiang Province

Zoo location

Source: Huffington Post / Chinasmack

Map image via Google Maps