HONG KONG (AFP) — As athletes from around the world sweat it out in Beijing, Hong Kong's pampered pets are being put though their paces in their own version of the Olympic Games.
From rabbit hurdles and parrot rope-climbing to cat agility contests, a Hong Kong pet shop has organised 10 weeks' worth of events to try to promote sport for animals.
Organiser Howard Cheung, who runs the city-centre PetMAX store, said he was inspired by the Beijing Games, but also wanted to help owners keep their animals healthy.
"Pets need to exercise and they don't have much space in Hong Kong. So we are trying to promote exercise and stimulate owners to exercise their pets," he said.
Most of Hong Kong's seven million people live in tiny cramped apartments and dogs are banned from many city parks.
Nevertheless, pets have become a must-have accessory and are treated accordingly -- grooming parlours abound, and the city even has a bakery dedicated to making cakes for animals.
Cheung said the so-called "Olympets" had proved popular, with 400 animals taking part in the heats held so far.
An awards presentation will be held at the end of August, using pet-sized medals the store has had specially made for the event.
But Cheung admitted the prospect of winning gold was not always enough to inspire the animals.
"Of course for some of the events you have to use treats so they will try harder," he said. "The parrots do have a tendency to climb up the rope anyway, but a treat at the top helps."
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