A man in his twenties wearing a mask and cap was spotted jumping over a fence at a scenic area in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, to steal four black swan eggs in an act of animal cruelty.
The two swans tried to defend their eggs by poking the man with their beaks, according to Shanghaiist.
But the man started stomping on the eggs and kicked the birds, injuring the wing of one of them, as onlookers watched in horror.
Some people yelled at him to return the eggs, while others took photos. Another man who appeared to be in his 50s finally pulled him out of the area.
The two swans could be seen mourning their smashed eggs, with one bird checking the broken shells on the ground, while the other raised its head to the sky and started crying.
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A woman surnamed Jiang, who witnessed the incident, told local media that she saw some blood on the wings of the swans before it went into the lake to wash off.
Slender West Lake’s management team issued a statement on Sunday saying they were “deeply angered and shocked” by what happened.
“We have passed on all the evidence to the police in a bid to arrest the suspect at the earliest,” a spokesperson said, according to the Daily Mail.
Users on Chinese social media expressed their anger towards the onlookers who just stood by without doing anything to stop the man.
“There were over 30 people standing around him but no one to stop him?!” said one user.
“Do all the people around just watching it like a show? Or are they too busy to do live-stream and putting it online?” commented another.
In February, a similar incident occurred near Mount Tai, in China’s Shandong Province, where two black swans refused to eat for days after five of their eggs were reportedly stolen by two tourists.
Li Yaming, who manages the scenic spot, said that unhatched swan eggs aren’t edible, can no longer be incubated and could explode in hot temperatures.