A craze in which pets are sold in mystery parcels has caused outrage in China after a number of animals were found dead in a courier company’s truck.
The “blind box” craze sees people order a box containing an animal that is then sent to them through the post.
On Monday, 160 distressed cats and dogs were located inside a courier company’s truck in Chengdu.
It has prompted calls for action on the phenomenon as well as on the purchase of animals online in general.
According to Chinese law the transportation of live animals is prohibited, but “blind boxes” are incredibly popular, state media reports.
A range of the boxes containing animals such as tortoises, lizards and rats have been reported for sale on sites such as Taobao.
An investigation into the horror discovery has now been launched after only a couple hundred animals were saved.
Sister Hua, the founder of animal rescue group Utopia, told CBS News: “The station was cluttered with express boxes with thousands of animals that had already died, and the entire place reeks of rotting bodies.
“It was like a living hell.”
Hua said the grim discovery isn’t just an abhorrent treatment of defenseless animals, it also poses a danger to public health, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic, which ostensibly originated from bats at a Wuhan wet market.
They had been left in the boxes without food or water for about a week before they were discovered at the Dongxing Logistics station in Henan’s Luohe city.
Sister Hua and 20 fellow animal rescue volunteers managed to rescue 200 rabbits and 50 dogs and cats from the scene.
Sister Hua added it was likely the animals were bought online as pets but left stranded at the logistics depot because of a delayed collection.
“Miscommunication inside the shipping company and the inconsistency of the implementation of shipping regulations directly led to the tragedy,” Hua said. “Of course, both buyers and sellers bear the responsibility, too.”
The incident has caused outrage on social media with people calling for a boycott of such boxes and buying animals online. The phrase “pet blind box” has had millions of views on Weibo.
BASTARDS CRIMINALS ???????????— Libertas Capitur (@liberumanimalia) May 6, 2021
What you expect is China ?????????https://t.co/ManNdfQz8g
State media Xinhua described pet “blind boxes” as a “desecration of life” and said courier companies and e-commerce platforms must “strengthen self-examination and self-correction”.
It also called on buyers and sellers to have “more goodwill and more respect for life”.