BEIJING - The cat is out of the bag at a restaurant in northeast China that had been serving donkey meat spiked with tiger urine in pricey dishes advertised as endangered Siberian tigers.
Local media in Heilongjiang province got wind that the restaurant was offering stir-fried dishes and medicinal liquor made from tiger meat and bones, sparking local police and health inspectors to pounce, the China Daily said on Thursday.
"After inspection, the owner confessed that the so-called tiger meat was donkey meat that had been dressed with tiger urine to give the dish a 'special' flavour," the newspaper said.
The restaurant had been charging as much as 800 yuan ($100) a dish for the illegal, "rare" fare, tapping into traditional Chinese belief that tiger meat has aphrodisiacal properties.
The restaurant was shut down and fined and the director of the nearby Hengdaohezi Siberian Tiger Park, China's largest centre for breeding the highly endangered animals, reassured the public there was no way meat from its big cats had made its way to the dinner table, the newspaper said.
Only a few hundred Siberian tigers are believed to be alive in the wild in their native habitats of northern China, southern Russia and parts of North Korea.
The report did not explain where the tiger urine had come from or how it was collected.