In 2011, CNN brought the public’s attention to a deeply disturbing trend that was observed in Beijing, China.
Among the usual trinkets and key chains sold at vendors’ stalls, were live animals, like small fish, young Chinese soft-shell turtles (that are classified as a vulnerable species) and other tiny amphibians enclosed in plastic pouches filled with coloured water.
One of the vendors told CNN the bags contained crystallized oxygen and nutrients which allowed the animals to survive for a few days.
Animal activists have condemned the key chains as unnaturally cruel, as the animals inevitably die once their oxygen wears off.
In the best case scenario, they’re freed from their prisons and end up as pets to people who aren’t prepared to care for them.
Dr. Sam Walton, a former research lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, told The Star Online there might be enough oxygen and food in the plastic casing, but the animal waste from digestion and respiration is toxic and will kill them the animals.
“They essentially poison themselves with ammonia. Aquatic animals are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations so being in a bag is like being in a greenhouse. The temperature shock and physical shock of being shaken around will probably kill the animals before anything else.”
WATCH: Live turtles in bags sold as key rings in China