As live fish and turtles sealed in small key rings have become an increasingly popular trinkets sold at subway entrances and train stations, animal protection groups are advocating an immediate ban, calling the item an example of "pure animal abuse."
However, there is no existing animal protection law that would prevent their sales, explain animal rights groups.
At the Sihui subway station C entrance, one vendor hawked such rings.
Filled with colored water, each 7centimeterlong key ring encapsulated either one Brazil turtle or two small kingfish.
"The water in the key ring has 'nutrients'," claimed the vendor. "They can live for months inside there."
Business was looking good Tuesday afternoon as one fish and nine turtle rings sold within five minutes.
"I'll hang it in my office, it looks nice and brings good luck, " a man in his 30s said after buying a turtle key ring.
"I bought one to free it. It looks so miserable," a woman told the Global Times.
According to Mary Peng, cofounder of the International Center for Veterinary Services, fish and turtles wouldn't survive very long in a sealed plastic bag. "They would run out of oxygen," Peng said.
Animal protection groups are voicing strong opposition to the key ring sales.
"To put a living thing inside a sealed and confined space for profit is immoral and pure animal abuse," said Qin Xiaona, director of the NGO Capital Animal Welfare Association.
However, "China only has a Wild Animal Protection Law," Qin explained. "If the animals are not wild animals they fall outside the law's scope."
"If an animal protection law is too much to hope for, we urgently need an antianimal abuse law," Qin said, appealing to citizens not to buy such key rings. "If nobody buys it, the market will die," she added.