HOUSTON -- Yao Ming fed a giraffe, petted a rhino and watched an elephant
do a headstand during a visit to the Houston Zoo on Thursday.
former Houston Rockets center, in town in advance of this weekend's All-Star
festivities, has become increasingly active in animal-rights causes since he
retired from basketball because of repeated injuries in July 2011.
Late in his playing career, Yao became a vocal -- and the most famous -
critic of shark-fin soup, a centuries-old delicacy in China. He began
actively campaigning in 2006 against "finning" by fishermen -- carving off
the shark's valuable fins and dumping their bodies back in the ocean,
sometimes while the shark is still alive.
Before he walked around the
zoo with about two dozen children, Yao filmed a public service announcement
promoting his shark-fin cause with former Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo and
current Houston point guard Jeremy Lin.
Yao has now started
campaigning against elephant and rhino poaching in Africa and Asia. He'll
star in a documentary on the subject, based on his visit to Kenya last
summer, that is scheduled to be released in China toward the end of 2013.