Living animals such as salamanders, frogs and turtles are being sold as souvenirs to tourists in China – trapped in transparent tombs to form keychains. Nick Ames has more
Street vendors sell the live amphibians contained in tiny bubble bags, which also sometimes contain beads and other decorations, in which the animals are barely able to move around.
The plastic pouches are filled with coloured, oxygenated water which allows the animals to survive for a limited amount of days, before they suffocate when the air supply runs out. Activist – who have been fighting the trend for years – say often the tiny creatures, die within 24 hours.
Even if the bags are broken open prior to their deaths, chances of survival are slim as the purchaser is extremely unlikely to understand how to care for such vulnerable creatures. Even the smallest turtles should have a terrarium or aquarium no smaller than 29 gallons, no shorter than 4 feet long, 18 inches wide and 18 inches tall
‘I’ll hang it in my office, it looks nice and brings good luck’ one customer told The Global Times.
But animal rights activists they say that the transparent tombs only put emphasis on the lack of animal protection laws in the country.
David Neale, welfare director of Animals Asia, said: ‘If a national animal protection law was enacted in China, such acts of cruelty could be prevented, and those who persist in causing harm and suffering to animals within their care could be prosecuted.’
He also pointed out that the tiny imprisoned animals are also hazardous to buyers, as close contact with amphibians that frequently carry salmonella bacteria can cause serious illness in humans.
Qin Xiaona is the director of Capital Animal Welfare Association (CAWA), a Chinese NGO she founded in 2000.
She called on tourists to refrain from purchasing the trinkets, saying: ‘To put a living individual inside a sealed and confined space for profit is immoral and pure animal abuse. If nobody buys it, the market will die.’