“I was wrong. I repent.”

These were the words printed on a notice that hung with the three mice tied to a tree in Chengdu City, Sichuan province. For many, it was a mere prank to fill the web with viral photos. But for others, it was a metaphor representing corrupt officials who steal public money.


According to Sichuan Online, advertising company employee Junjiang Liu, together with his colleagues, reportedly captured three rats in their newly renovated office and decided to tie them to a tree by the street for public display. Before their unusual stint, Liu claimed to have seen a number of rodents stealing vegetables and nibbling on cables in their office.

The three mice had their limbs spread out as nylons tied them tight around a tree — a sight that some dismissed as a hilarious stunt, but for others, an act of blatant animal cruelty. However, some reports claimed that these rodents were captured after they were caught stealing vegetables.

Soon, nearby police officers took photos of the bizarre scene before publishing them on their official Weibo account.

But the police had a different agenda. They hoped the images would symbolize thieves who residents must be warned about during the later part of the year. For many different reasons, the photos went viral on the Internet, with about 8,000 reposts and 2,000 comments. The Chinese media too had taken notice after Sichuan Online first reported the incident.

While many citizens see Liu’s actions as animal cruelty, others take it more symbolically. The mice, they say, represent the corrupt officials.

Sichuan Online reported that the rats were eventually untied, caged and sent to “cat police” for “handling.” This sounds like a good plot for Disney or, perhaps, a Tom and Jerry sequel.