Chinese citizens have urged the government to end the illegal practice of delivering animals in ‘blind boxes’ after 160 puppies and kittens were rescued from boxes ready for delivery on Monday.
The animals were under three months old and packed in standard delivery boxes on their way to locations throughout China, including Shenzhen, which is more than 1,000 miles (1,700 km) away. Animal rights volunteers stopped a van packed with the boxes at a warehouse in the city of Chengdu.
Four animals died in the boxes; the others were in bad shape and sick, local media reported. The animals have been housed temporarily in local animal shelters and veterinary clinics.
The “blind box” phenomenon in which consumers can buy unlabelled packages containing random gifts from retailers has become popular in China. They have also been used to deliver smaller animals like tortoises, hamsters and spiders.
“After investigating, these blind boxes containing live pets were sold on e-commerce platforms, and the delivery station agreed to send them, which represented a violation of regulations,” the Chinese delivery company ZTO Express, which was involved in the delivery, said in an online statement.
“The facility’s operations have been suspended, and all staff will cooperate with the authority to investigate the case,” they added.
“Reject live animal transportation!” said a netizen on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service posting under the name Xian-Jie-Po-Lie. “The stench of corpses produces all sorts of germs that contaminate surrounding parcels… This is clearly an illegal act that is being done for personal monetary gain.”
Mailing a live animal is in violation of China’s animal safety and disease control regulations, which have been strengthened after COVID-19.
“Buyers, sellers, the retail platform, and the couriers are all guilty. I can’t imagine how anyone can do this,” said another Weibo user.
China’s animal welfare policy has been heavily criticized in the past year, with many scientists and campaigners linking the global pandemic to the cruel and often insanitary conditions in its farms and breeding facilities.
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