If your heart has ever ached looking at pictures of animals pent up in tiny pet store cages or pens at the zoo, prepare to be outraged. CNN and other internet sources have uncovered a souvenir scheme in China that seems like a sick joke, but isn’t. Live animals—turtles, fish, lizards and other amphibians—are being trapped in tiny plastic bags and sold as decorative key chains. Vendors claim that the bag contains crystallized oxygen and nutrients designed to keep the animals alive, but in reality, most die within a day or less due to oxygen deprivation. What’s even more shocking is that thanks to China’s lax animal protection laws, most customers are encouraged to microwave and then eat the animals upon their demise.
According to sources like Ryot.org, the shocking live-animal key chains are most often sold out of coolers near the entrances of subways. Many contain young Chinese soft-shell turtles—the adults are a popular dish in Chinese cooking. Even though local laws maintain that these horrifying key chains are completely legal, animal rights advocates are outraged.
“Lack of food and diminishing oxygen concentrations within both the water and the small amount of air in these plastic pouches will cause the animals to die in a relatively short period of time after the pouches are sealed,” David Neale, animal welfare director of Animals Asia told CNN.
Neale also implied that attempting to keep the animals as pets could put those who buy the key chains at risk (though anyone crazy enough to buy one of these disgusting trinkets probably deserves it).
“Individuals should also be aware of the potential human health risks associated with being in close contact with animals such as turtles. Turtles frequently carry salmonella bacteria that can cause serious illness,” he said.
A petition to stop the sale of these live-animal keychains is already underway on Avaaz.org, and has gathered over 143,000 signatures. If you care about the rights of innocent animals, please sign.