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Chinese Netizens Infuriated by “Live Animal Mystery Box” Industry

The business of live animals being sold online as ‘reveal pet surprises,’ transported through regular courier services, has caused outrage on Weibo.

Manya Koetse

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The cruel business of living pets being transported through regular courier services as ‘surprise boxes’ has caused outrage on Chinese social media.

“This just makes me furious!” A popular Chinese food blogger posted about China’s “live animal mystery box” on May 4th. The blogger, who goes by the name of ‘Snake Rose’ or ‘Snack Girl’ (@零食少女), has over seven million followers on social media platform Weibo.

In her post, ‘Snack Girl’ addresses the problematic industry of ‘pet blind boxes’ (宠物盲盒) which are for sale on various Chinese e-commerce platforms. “I’ve seen this since about six months ago on all sorts of platforms from Pinduoduo to Taobao, offered for various prices, including those of 9.9 yuan [$1.5] and 19.9 yuan [$3],” the blogger writes.

‘Pet blind boxes’ are offered online as surprise deliveries containing an actual pet. Usually advertised with photos showing attractive and expensive breeds of dogs or cats, online shoppers are lured into buying a small and cute pet at an extremely low price. The fact that these customers do not know what pet they are buying is supposed to add to the ‘charm’ of these blind boxes, since the moment of unboxing is one of anticipation.

In reality, the business is anything but cute or charming. A recent incident exposed the terrible conditions in which these animals are sold and transported as regular goods by standard courier services.

On the evening of May 3, a courier business vehicle containing over 160 small cats and dogs was discovered by local animal rescue volunteers in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan province. The animals were being transported as express delivery goods, with the seller selling them as ‘blind box’ pets. After alerting the authorities, on-site rescue volunteers found several of the animals in the boxes to already have died. Other animals were taken to a local shelter, where they can later be put up for adoption (video of the rescue operation).

Image posted by @junsoly from Chengdu.

Mystery boxes are especially popular among young people, who enjoy the surprise element of not exactly knowing what they are buying. Mystery boxes usually contain beauty products or candy but have also come to contain other things. In May of last year, when the pandemic lockdowns had boosted the domestic pet market, there was also a trend of mystery boxes for pets – containing various pet snacks and care products for cats or dogs.

Reports on the trend of actual live animal mystery boxes started to come out in January of 2021, when Weibo bloggers discovered the online sale of 35 yuan [$5.5] ‘small breed dog’ surprise boxes. Other variations include turtle and cat boxes. One blogger called the service, where these pets are sent to customers through standard courier services, a “deadly game.” The lack of ventilation, long-distance freight, and the violent handling of packages is called “a torture” for these animals, that can barely survive being squeezed and tossed around in such a confined space with a lack of oxygen – sometimes for days.

The animals in the Chengdu rescue operation.

According to Weibo blogger ‘Snack Girl,’ many pets do not make it out alive. If they have not already died by the time they come out of the box, many do not survive for more than a week, which is also called the “week dog / cat” (“星期狗/猫”).

A “week dog” (星期狗) is a term that was originally used for dogs sold by roadside dog dealers in busy shopping areas. When people see these little dogs they are lively and cute, but once they take them home, many of these dogs, carrying contagious illnesses, become ill and die within a week. Along with China’s rapid digitalization, many roadside vending businesses have shifted to the e-commerce environment. In this process, the phenomenon of “week dogs” has now also become an e-commerce problem.

Even if the small dogs arrive alive, they often turn out to be deadly ill.

Many people who bought a pet blind box online find that their dog doesn’t live longer than a week.

Another story that was previously shared online is that of a 9.9 yuan [$1.5] package containing a dog that was rejected by the customer and ended up at the post office. Once opened, the small dog was malnourished, shivering, and near to death. An attempt to rescue the pup failed, and it died the same day.

By Tuesday night, the post by ‘Snack Girl’ and her call on Weibo netizens to never buy these live animal mystery boxes was shared over 47,000 times and liked more than 340,000 times. Many people express their anger and sorrow over this online business.

One artist on Weibo (@ARCS-嘎法) said that in the end, it is humanity that is hurting itself by engaging in these sorts of inhumane practices, sharing a drawing in response (image below).

“The buyers and sellers of these boxes don’t even regard these little cats and dogs as living creatures,” some people say: “When can we finally have an animal protection law?!”

Although China currently has no law against animal cruelty, the live animal blind box industry is still officially illegal since it is not in accordance with Article 33 of the Postal Law in China, which prohibits the posting and delivery in postal materials of various species of live animals.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Animals

Outrage over Chinese Food Blogger Torturing Cat in Online Video

Chinese food vlogger Xu Zhihui (徐志辉) was part of a cat abuse chat group on QQ.

Manya Koetse

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A shocking and extremely cruel video in which a Chinese wanghong (online influencer) tortures a stolen cat has sparked outrage on Chinese social media.

The person involved is the Anhui-based food blogger/vlogger Xu Zhihui (徐志辉), who runs multiple accounts, including a Bilibili account with more than 400,000 followers and a Weibo account with over 20,000 fans (@杰克辣条). Xu is mostly known for posting videos of himself cooking and eating food.

The cat abuse incident happened on April 15 in Funan County’s Lucheng, Anhui Province, where the 29-year-old Xu filmed his horrific acts, including tying up the cat, binding it to a tree, cutting its paws, and burning it alive. He then uploaded the video and shared it to a QQ group dedicated to cat abuse. It later circulated around social media, triggering outrage.

According to screenshots that leaked online and the very fact Xu was part of a cruel ‘cat abuse chat group,’ this probably was not the first time for him to torture animals.

According to a police statement, authorities received reports about the stolen cat and the abuse video on April 26th, after which they immediately launched an investigation.

On April 27th, Xu posted an apology on his Weibo channel, in which he said he felt ashamed and sorry for what he did and that he was willing to bear “all the consequences” of his actions. He also wrote that he was being criticized and held accountable by both the public security bureau and Internet authorities. “Please give me another chance,” he wrote. The comments on the post were switched off.

A noteworthy part of Xu’s online apology is that it has a dedicated Weibo hashtag page including a ‘topic summary’ in which Xu apologized. The hashtag page was hosted by Toutiao News. The mix of the personal message by Xu on a hashtag page hosted by Chinese media seems to indicate that these parties worked together in spreading Xu’s words about how remorseful he allegedly is (#偷猫拍虐猫视频网红道歉#).

The comment sections suggest that most people will not forgive Xu for what he did. Many people say the story makes them feel sick to their stomach, and that the idea of ‘cat abuse’ chat groups makes their skin crawl.

“People like this do not change,” one person wrote. “Give you another chance?! Did you give that kitty a chance?!”

“Today he abuses a cat, tomorrow he kills a person. Straight to hell with him,” others wrote: “Go die!”

Xu’s actions are regarded as “negatively impacting society” and he currently is detained in Funan in accordance with the Public Security Administrative Punishments Law. His Bilibili account currently also displays a message that it is getting banned.

Although there are various laws in China regarding wildlife and the protection of animals, there currently is no national law that is explicitly against animal cruelty for all animals. Some legal bloggers explored under which laws Xu could be punished for his actions other than the abuse itself, such as stealing a cat and also uploading such a video to the internet (#虐待无主流浪猫狗或不被处罚#, #公共场合虐待动物并传播视频或犯罪#).

In recent years, voices calling for better laws on animal abuse in China have grown louder. In 2020, after a horrific story of a Chinese security guard pouring scalding water over a cat went viral, Chinese media outlet CCTV called out for a rapid legislation against animal abuse. That same video was shared in light of this incident again.

In 2021, home security cameras captured how anti-epidemic workers beat a pet dog to death in Shangrao. This also caused an online storm over animal abuse during ‘zero Covid.’

“I strongly call for legislation, [we must] defend the bottom line of morality,” some commenters now write: “We will never forgive this.”

By Manya Koetse

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Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Animals

Meanwhile in Panda News: Panda Talk during Macron’s China Visit, Yaya Set to Return to China in Late April

Panda updates! From Yaya in Memphis to Qiqi in Shanghai, these are the pandas that went trending this month.

Manya Koetse

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Panda news flash! After French President Macron’s China state visit, news of France hoping to lengthen the stay of panda celebrities Huan Huan and Yuan Zi in Beauval went trending on Weibo, along with the news that Memhpis-based Yaya is not coming home to China this week.

It is time for another update on what’s been going on in panda news recently for this second What’s on Weibo ‘meanwhile in panda news’ column to give you more insights into all the trending panda topics, including the controversies and politics surrounding them.

What’s been trending recently? There has been a lot of panda-related news. The following topics have been trending recently.

 

◼︎ PANDA TALK DURING MACRON’S CHINA VISIT

Hashtags: #马克龙想续租大熊猫#, #法国博瓦勒动物园想续租大熊猫#

 

In 1973, Chinese giant pandas Yen Yen and Li Li arrived at Zoo de Vincennes in Paris. The two pandas were gifted to French President Georges Pompidou by Zhou Enlai as part of China’s famous panda diplomacy. (Funny fact: the pair were originally thought to be male and female but were later discovered to be two males.)

Now, exactly fifty years later, President Emmanuel Macron is in China with his delegation. Apart from all the major issues such as EU-China relations and the war in Ukraine, ‘panda politics’ are also on the agenda.

Macron arrived in Beijing on April 5 as part of his state visit to China. Among the delegates and business leaders joining Macron, there is also Rodolphe Delord. Delord is the director of the ZooParc de Beauval, a French zoological park that is one of the largest in Europe.

The pandas Huan Huan (欢欢) and Yuan Zi (圆仔) are currently residing in the park. They arrived in France in 2012 as part of a decade-long research & conservation cooperation project between the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and ZooParc de Beauval. Their arrival was also seen as a warming of China-France relations.

In 2017, they had a baby cub named Yuan Meng. In 2021, Huan Huan again gave birth to twin cubs Huan Lili and Yuan Dudu.

The park previously indicated it would like to lengthen the duration of their agreement so that Yuan Zi and Huan Huan can stay in France for the time to come. They are also called “the stars of Beauval.”

During Macron’s visit, the hashtags “Macron Wants to Renew Giang Panda Lease” (#马克龙想续租大熊猫#) and “French Beauval Zoo Wants to Renew the Giant Panda Lease” went trending (#法国博瓦勒动物园想续租大熊猫#).

The French President apparently has an affinity with pandas. As part of his 40th birthday celebrations, Macron met the baby panda Yuan Meng back in 2017. Macron’s wife Brigitte became the cub’s ‘godmother.’ It has not been reported yet at this point if there already is an agreement about the extended lease.

 

◼︎ YAYA TO COME HOME IN LATE APRIL

Hashtags: #孟菲斯提醒未经许可直播丫丫违规#, #丫丫#, #孟菲斯动物园将为丫丫举办告别派对#, #丫丫正式移交中方#

 

Panda Yaya (丫丫), who has been living in America’s Memphis Zoo for two decades, has been a big topic on Chinese social media platforms this year because netizens have been very concerned about her skinny and seemingly unhealthy appearance and how she is being treated in the U.S. (the heightening political tensions between the US and China have not exactly eased these concerns).

According to the American care team, Yaya has been suffering from a chronic skin and fur condition which is related to her immune system and hormonal fluctuations. They claim the condition does not affect her quality of life and that they are closely monitoring Yaya.

Yaya was previously scheduled to return to China in early April of 2023. Yaya’s Memphis Zoo stay was part of a long joint conservation and research project between the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens and the U.S. with an agreement duration of ten years, which was extended by ten more years in 2013.

On April 7, the day that Yaya was allegedly scheduled to leave Memphis, it was reported that Memphis Zoo was organizing a ‘goodbye’ event, giving visitors the time to bid farewell to Yaya before she starts her journey to China at the end of April 2023. A related topic received over 170 million clicks on Weibo on Friday (#孟菲斯动物园将为丫丫举办告别派对#).

On Saturday, Yaya got snacks and even a special cake during the goodbye event, which also included Chinese cultural performances.

Although visitors have been livestreaming Yaya at the Memphis Zoo, Chinese state media reported earlier in April that the zoo reminded visitors not to record livestreams of Yaya as it goes against their policies.

This also became a hot topic on Chinese social media: “[Yaya] needs to be livestreamed, all the way until she returned to China,” some said, with others writing: “It’s not hard to understand why they don’t want Yaya to be livestreamed.”

Some netizens and panda fans are disappointed that they will still have to wait for the female panda to return to China. “Why won’t she come to China before late April? Why why why!?”

Although Yaya fans in China will still need to wait for the panda to return, she has officially been handed over to China and a joint team of American and Chinese carers will prepare her for the big trip home (#丫丫正式移交中方#).

 

◼︎ WAITING FOR PANDA QIQI’S RETURN FROM HOSPITAL

Hashtags: #七七确诊肠梗阻将进行手术#, #熊猫七七#

 

While many people are waiting for Yaya’s return, they are also worried about another panda that is Shanghai-based. As one of the most famous pandas living in the Shanghai Wild Animal Park, Qiqi attracted attention on Chinese social media in February of 2023 because of her health problems.

The 4-year-old female panda had a CT scan that showed there was an intestinal blockage, and the panda was rushed to the hospital for surgery.

Funny detail – Dr Wang arrived at work that day and saw Mr. ‘Panda’ on the patient list, he thought it was a patient named ‘Panda’ (Xiong Mao) until he discovered it was an actual panda getting a CT scan. “We’re a regular hospital,” he said: “Our patients are usually all humans.”

Although intestinal blockage is not common, Qiqi’s older brother Ya’ao (雅奥), who also lived at the park, died of the same condition in March of 2022.

After the surgery, Qiqi received further treatment. According to the latest news at this time, Qiqi has stabilized and is no longer in life danger.

Many Qiqi fans and panda lovers are now waiting for new pictures showing a Qiqi who has, hopefully, fully recovered. “Why haven’t we received more updates?” some wonder.

Read more panda news here.

By Manya Koetse 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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