Scandal in China: Living animals as keychains

This form of animal cruelty can hardly be put into words: in China, for a while, key fobs containing living animals were in fashion. The turtles, lizards and fish caught in a plastic bag die miserably after just a few days. However, it cannot be said with certainty whether this cruelty to animals “trend” is still current.

Some people keep coming up with new and rather frightening things at the expense of poor and innocent animals in order to somehow make money. In China, special keychains with tiny living animals are said to have been all the rage until 2013. Are you crazy? Many animal rights activists have long criticized China as a country where animal welfare is not a priority.

The small animals die miserably after only a few days

The animals are bred especially for the incredibly cruel “recycling” as key rings. Scandalously, this was not yet banned in China, at least in 2013. At that time there was only a protection law for wild animals. Small turtles, fish and lizards, among other things, are placed in airtight sealed plastic bags for the key rings.

The water in the bags is said to be enriched with nutrients to help the animals last at least a few days. Ultimately, the animals suffocate as the oxygen is quickly depleted. While “dissolved oxygen” is said to be present in the liquids, since water is made up of oxygen and hydrogen anyway, it can just be a misleading marketing slogan.

The whale shark is the largest living fish, but a friendly fellow that feeds mostly on plankton - Shutterstock / Krzysztof Odziomek
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11/14/2016 – 12:23 p.m

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Petition should enforce ban

The disgusting key fobs quickly attracted animal rights activists. At, supporters of a ban were able to sign an online petition against animal cruelty. Almost 118,000 signatures were collected so that the protest could be sent to the Chinese government.

Current status 2016: situation uncertain

If you research the current situation in China about the key fobs that contain live animals, you won’t find any clear answers as to whether these disgusting “lucky charms” still exist or whether they have been banned in the meantime. Some report that there are still hawkers selling barbaric souvenirs in front of sights and in places that are well frequented by tourists. But there are also dissenting voices who say that this cruel animal cruelty is no longer allowed and that they themselves have not seen such “souvenirs” in China. The mass protests and petitions on the Internet may have been successful after all. It is to be hoped.

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