A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Apr 6, 2011

Live Animal Key Chains-New Trend in China

There is a new trend in China. Live fish and turtles are being sealed into airtight containers which are then sold, very cheaply, as key rings and trinkets. Vendors are appearing in markets, subway stations, elementary schools and the like to peddle these novelties. The Global Times has reported that these live-animal key chains are growing in popularity as they are being purchased as good luck charms and for decorative purposes.

The vendors assert that the colored water is filled with nutrients that would sustain the animals for months. This is far from comforting as both fish, and particularly turtles, can live for years, if not decades. Mary Peng, co-founder of the International Center for Veterinary Services, fears they won't survive very long as "they would run out of oxygen".

In addition to the absence of air, they would be living in and eating their own waste, and, turtles need to get out of the water, bask and let their shells dry to avoid rot. One also wonders what concussive experiences these animals would feel in someone’s backpack, briefcase or pocket.

As horrific as this may sound to some - it is legal in China - as there is no general law preventing cruelty to animals. Qin Xiaona, director of the NGO Capital Animal Welfare Association laments that "China only has a Wild Animal Protection Law. If the animals are not wild animals they fall outside the law's scope". Animal activists in China are voicing strong opposition, and, in the absence of a law, are encouraging people not to buy these trinkets so that the vendors will have no financial incentive to sell them. This controversy so soon after the magic fish spectacle is fueling a movement to enact needed anti cruelty legislation.

Torturing and killing these animals is bad, but made worse by the message sent to those child shoppers that this is okay. They are also being taught to feel no empathy for these pets. Sadly, this is a far greater price to pay than the cost of the key chain.

Article first published as Live Animal Key Chains-New Trend in China on Technorati.

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