Are these the world’s cruelest people ? Chinese zoo visitors persecute lions with Snowballs!

Helpless lions take cover as group – including children – hurl snow at them (Photos)

Throwing snowballs at lions does not sound the safest – or kindest – way to enjoy yourself.

But when the animals are contained in a zoo enclosure and you are firing down on them from behind a safety barrier – it is a little easier to be brave.

These lions certainly looked less than pleased when they were pelted with snow by laughing visitors, including children, at Hangzhou Zoo in Zhejiang Province, eastern China.

The attack was reportedly launched by one young man, who began to take aim at the big cats with a barrage of snow and ice.

The attack clearly frightened the helpless animals, with the lioness swiftly taking cover under a wooden plank.

The male line used a tree trunk as cover, with both eyes fixed on the visitors, as the missiles rained into the enclosure, ChinaSmack.com reports.

The man apparently laughed as he hurled the snow, with a group of other visitors, including a number of children, also starting to take aim at the lions.

One of them used large chunks of snow and threw them down with all of his strength, according to the website.

The frightened lions took shelter together in the corner of their pen as they tried to escape the new onslaught. The male lion roared in anger at his tormentors as they began to stroll away.

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