Visitors at a zoo in China were left horrified after witnessing live puppies being fed to enormous pythons. The incident took place at the state-run Hebin Park zoo in Pingdingshan city, with footage and pictures of the incident going viral on Chinese social media.

A spokesperson for the zoo admitted to the practice of feeding puppies to the hungry snakes, but claimed the snake enclosure was privately run by a third party.

Keepers have reportedly stopped the routine after an outcry in China.

An eyewitness told Mail Online she saw two live puppies in two separate enclosures: one containing a Burmese python, another a golden python.

Footage shows a small brown puppy, no more than a week or two old, on the floor of an enclosure, next to a box containing the Burmese python.

Additional pictures show a tiny white puppy beside a golden python. The python appears to have swallowed the dog whole.

Eyewitness Zi Yue captured the harrowing scenes, and told Mail Online: "I don't understand why the zookeeper had to do so. I suspect they had found a litter of puppies in the park, so they decided to feed them to the snakes."

Ms Yue's posts caught the attention of animal rights group Peta Asia, which said: "This is yet another example of the importance of an animal protection law and why China needs to implement one."

The zoo's spokesperson later confirmed the feeding sessions had been stopped (via Pear Video): "The [zookeepers] did feed puppies to snakes. My bosses have spoken with them, and stopped them carrying on doing so."