Live Animals Are Still Being Sold as Keychains in China Despite Cruelty Claims

Live animal keychains continue to be sold at a tourist market in downtown Xiamen, even after several petitions called on the Chinese government to ban their sale.

For 15 to 20 yuan ($2.17-2.90) each, you can get one of these bizarre souvenirs for yourself.

Tourists can choose from salamanders, terrapins and fish as their “pets,” which are sealed up in small airtight plastic bubbles filled with fluorescent, oxygenized water and a single food pellet to keep the animals alive for up to three months, according to Shanghaiist.

The live animal keychains first appeared in 2008 during the Beijing Olympics, and then went viral in 2011 in China.

This trend quickly sparked outrage with animal rights activists who have called it a form of animal abuse.

Although several online petitions were signed to push the government to make it illegal, vendors continue sell the live animal keychains on the streets of China, where tourists attach them on their keys, bags and mobile phones.

There might be enough oxygen and food in the plastic casing but the animal waste from digestion and respiration is toxic and will kill them. They essentially poison themselves with ammonia,” Dr. Sam Walton, a former research lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, told The Star Online.

Aquatic animals are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations so being in a bag is like being in a greenhouse,” he said. “The temperature shock and physical shock of being shaken around will probably kill the animals before anything else.

In September 2009, China introduced a draft of the first comprehensive animal protection law, but there hasn’t been much progress since.

But there has been a rise in animal activism in the country with hundreds of animal rescue groups focusing primarily on cats and dogs.

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