This issue was first reported by CNN in 2011. They found that small fish, turtles, and other species were being – and continue to be – suspended in brightly-colored liquid, often along with beads and other decorations and sold in small, plastic pouches by street vendors while they are still alive. These small plastic pouches give animals very little rooms to squirm around and cost only around $1.50. Since the issue was first exposed, very little has been done to stop it and the trend continues.
According to the vendors selling these “trinkets”, the pouches are filled with clear or colored oxygenated water that provides animals with nutrients. However, the animals can survive only for few days in the pouch and will die if the customer does not release it early enough.
Despite the existence of wildlife protection laws in China, more and more people in China and international communities are concerned about the level of protection that animals receive.
“If a national animal protection law was enacted in China, such acts of cruelty could be prevented, and those who persist in causing harm and suffering to animals within their care could be prosecuted,” said David Neale, animal welfare director of Animals Asia.
“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 relatively short period of time after the pouches are sealed,” said Neale.
Here is a GIF showing a turtle moving in one of the keychains.
He also warned that keeping animals such close could have health implications for people.
“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.
Unfortunately, the use of animals as jewelry is not unique to China. Encrusting live beetles in precious jewels and wearing them as broaches is a common practice in Mexico. And earlier this year, a watch company unveiled a watch filled with live ants, but after receiving a huge repercussion from the public, the company said it was an early April Fool’s joke.