Illegal Food Market in China Literally a Wild Animal Zoo

By Lu Jianhui, Central News Agency
November 12, 2007 12:00 am Last Updated: November 12, 2007 12:00 am

HONG KONG—Recently, eating exotic wild animals has gained popularity again in Guangdong Province in mainland China. Reports speculate that a local official is behind the open operation of an illegal food market in the Nanhai District of Foshan City. This food market openly sells astonishing numbers and breeds of animals such as small pandas, civet cat, sika deer and other exotic wild animals. The entire market is like a zoo.

According to the report by Hong Kong's The Sun newspaper, the market, which is situated in a private housing complex near the Nanhai District, has a sign on the front door which reads “Wholesale Foods.” However, this “food market” is actually more like a zoo of wild animals.

According to the report, nearly over 100 vendors are selling wild animals as food. From an anonymous insider, this place was opened only two months ago and is privately owned. There are many security guards on site with iron batons in their hands. One man who claims to be the manager said that this place is operated by the nephew of a Guangzhou City government official, and that they are not afraid of being reported at all.

No Fear of Being Exposed

Just recently, the Guangdong Province authorities announced the prohibition of ingesting snake meat. However, the vendors of this market still sell pythons, cobras, and various other breeds of snakes and many other animals, including more than 20 types of birds, such as the first-rank protected animals, i.e. little egret, fishing cormorant, white-throated jay thrush, and melodious laughing thrush.

However, this market is reportedly privately owned, and has been in business for two months, with armed guards carrying metal batons standing guard. A person claiming to be the managing operator said that the nephew of a Guangzhou City official owns the food market, and so the vendors are not afraid of being exposed.

Other wild animals being sold for food include the civet cat (found to be the primary carrier of SARS), white fox (arctic fox), beaver, and the sika deer (an endangered species).

Some animals being sold in this food market have been appearing less often on the dinner table than others, such as small pandas. The pandas are sold for 80 yuan (about US $10) per jin (about 1.1 pound). Civet cats are sold for 75 yuan per jin and wild hogs for 65 yuan per jin.

Workers at the market said that restaurants are the main buyers. Their representatives come from Foshan City, Guangzhou City, Zhongshan city and other cities around the Pear River Delta. More than ten thousand wild animals are sold to these buyers each day, which makes for a considerable amount of business.