French actress Brigitte Bardot has fired off a letter to China's president criticising the nation for killing civet cats in its fight against the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus.

Animal-loving Bardot's letter to President HU JINTAO claims there's no scientific proof about which animal species first caught SARS and lashes out against China's "cruel and barbarous slaughtering methods".

She writes, "The eradication methods these animals are put through are unacceptable."

The southern Chinese province of Guangdong targeted 10,000 civets for slaughter - by drowning, electrocution or incineration- as part of its battle against the spread of the virus.

Bardot's letter continues, "Mr. President, I hope to believe that you will substitute these current slaughter methods for methods that are worthy of your legendary refinement."

Bardot, 69, is no stranger to launching campaigns in defence of animals. In 1997 and 2000, she was convicted in France of inciting racial violence after she wrote an article criticising the Muslim practice of slaughtering sheep.

12/01/2004 08:40