Chinese Vendors Selling Small Animals as Keyrings
March 26, 2011 | by Lycurgus

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.


  • It's very sad. There are so many horrible animal abuses in China in the name of profit. Dogs and cats are skinned alive and their pelts used for fur. I know there are a lot of good people in China, some are fighting to get laws in place to protect the animals. But they have a hard fight ahead.

    • So true. I live in China right now. Sometimes I'm afraid what I might see around the corner… I hope the animal welfare activist will be able to do something about.

  • are you listening Rich Western Animal Rights groups? start some animal rights PR in China TODAY !!

    • Would probably be stopped by the government, accused to defaming communism, then ultimately said to be the mastermind of the live animal keyring trade.

  • I saw these being sold in China at Christmas, tiny fish and turtles in transparent plastic balls reminiscent of the balls you get containing small toys in Kinder Eggs.

  • this is sick!

  • This has to stop. This is insane. It just really highlights the lack of emotion by these people. If they don't have compassion and care that there is a living, breathing, feeling animal dying due to lack of oxygen – they should all just die…these people do not need to be living, breathing and feeling in our communities!

  • may the all come back in their next life as a turtle or a goldfish!

  • i want one! where do i buy???

  • I call b*llsh*t on this one. It is a falsification of a story that was run in a Chinese newspaper and turned into an "omigod" thing by some troll. So, congratulations, you and many others have been trolled. Oops.

  • Chinese newspaper and turned into an "omigod" thing by some troll. So, congratulations, you and many others have been trolled. Oops.

  • And you also have to consider that since it is a key ring, you will be shaking it a lot! :(

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