I have a key ring that I’ve had for over a decade. It’s a small bottle opener, given to me for being a part of a popular band’s online club. Sadly, it is not alive, and very useful when I order a beer that requires a bit of leverage to open. Should I wish to change this, I would have to go to China.
Animal protection groups are heading the movement to prevent street vendors from selling live animals in small bags attached to key rings. The animals, either a small turtle from Brazil or two kingfish, live in a small bag of “nutrient rich” water, which the vendors claim allows the animals to live for several months. After several months is up, however, you’ll just be carrying around a dead animal.
Mary Peng, the co-founder of the International Center for Veterinary Services, says that the animals will run out of oxygen and therefore probably die before the so-called nutrients in the water run out.
These little trinkets, typically sold at subway and train stations, are protected by law and, according to said law, are not considered animal abuse. According to Qin Xiaona, director of the NGO Capital Animal Welfare Association, this is pure animal abuse; sadly, there only exists in China a Wild Animal Protection Law, and therefore these poor animals are not protected.
For some, they’re bought because they think they bring good luck. Others buy them to free them. According to one woman who spoke to the Global Times, “I bought one to free it. It looks so miserable.”
The only way to help the animals is to not buy the key rings, says Qin. By doing this, the market will eventually die and these animals will no longer be sold in a sealed watery grave.