BEIJING (AFP) - A dolphin has died in China after tourists hoisted it out of the water to pose with it for photographs, state media said on Tuesday, provoking outrage online.
Images posted online showed a group of tourists manhandling the grey creature, which washed ashore on a beach on Sunday in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, the state-run Shanghai Daily reported, adding that it later died of "excessive bleeding".
The dolphin might have collided with a fishing boat before it became stranded, the paper quoted an expert as saying.
But instead of trying to help the distressed animal, a crowd of bathers gathered in the water to pose with it, images posted online showed. Several men lifted the dolphin above the water as one of them flexed his muscles for the camera.
Users of China's Twitter-like social media service Sina Weibo reacted with outrage at the photographs on Tuesday.
"When even the basic respect of life is lost, I just want to say, how can I be proud of you, China?" one user said in a typical comment.
"Chinese style tourism is not about relaxation, but for showing off where one has been... Only by posting the pictures and getting praise and compliments, can the tourist feel he didn't spend the money in vain," another said.
"Dolphins, as highly evolved mammals, have an IQ only a little lower than humans. But those people in the pictures are worse than pigs," wrote another.
China, which has a growing animal rights movement, does not currently have any laws to protect non-endangered animals.