Animals Trapped Alive In Trinkets Sold For $1.50 in China

Animals Trapped Alive In Trinkets Sold For $1.50 in China

Here we go again with China being in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Chinese traders are selling tiny animals trapped in keychains and trinkets to tourists as souvenirs and “lucky charms.” People can buy pint-sized turtles, baby wall geckos, salamanders, and all kinds of fish and reptiles for as low as $1.50 (10.74 Yuan), all sealed in tiny airtight bags. This is one horrifying way of keeping pets as an animal lover.

The vendors would claim that each animal is safe in its plastic container, with two-thirds of it filled with water containing crystallized oxygen. A single bit of food is thrown into the bag and will supposedly keep the animal alive for up to three months. This is so creepy that it gets sickening. The animals aren’t free to move about and cannot breathe fresh air. They excrete in the bag and swim until they die in a pile of decayed waste. It’s difficult to comprehend the sort of entertainment or amusement the owners derive from these tiny animal death cells.

According to Snopes, these products came into the Chinese market around 2011. [1] The UK Sun reports that it started as goldfish being sold in airtight bags during the 2008 Olympic Games held in Beijing, China. As millions of fans and tourists flocked to the capital city to watch the games, vendors thought up the strangest ideas for keepsakes and souvenirs. These keyrings were initially sold to little children in Qingdao, the city where the sailing events were hosted. The trend spread quickly to other cities and has been growing stronger ever since.

Today, they are sold everywhere in China, outside of bus stations, subways, markets, alleys, and street corners.

The government couldn’t care less

 The animals can only last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks, and the owner must cut it out of the plastic bag into a larger container to keep it alive. However, most people just let them die and toss the still-sealed bag into the trash can. According to Dr. Sam Walton, a former research lecturer at University Malaysia Terengganu, gases from the decomposition of the animals’ excreta would eventually kill them. [2]

“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. They essentially poison themselves with ammonia,” he said.

However, they could die even more quickly from the physical shock of being constantly shaken around and from the extreme temperature. The plastic creates a greenhouse effect, suffocating the tiny creatures.

The Chinese government hasn’t bothered to do a single thing to stop this inhuman trend. According to Qin Xiaona, director of Capital Area Animal Welfare Association, these animals are helpless because they are not protected by any animal rights laws.

“China only has a Wild Animal Protection Law. If the animals are not wild animals they fall outside the law’s scope.”

The fight is not backing down

Nonetheless, this non-classification does not stop people from petitioning to the Chinese government to ban the sales of these trinkets.

According to Lyndsey Wright of PETA, these trinkets are “a form of extreme cruelty.” She explains that the animals are very young and sensitive, and would only live for a very short while after being taken home. “These key chains provide no way to feed the animals and no way for them to breathe. Fish and turtles, they both need oxygen to breathe.”

A petition, “Put a Stop to Live Animals in Keychains and Mobile Phone Trinkets in China!” was signed 1.7 million times before its closure. [3] Other movements are still thriving, calling on the Chinese government to put a stop to this very disturbing horror.

Sign one today to join the fight against cruelty to baby animals.


  1. Are Turtles Used on Chinese Souvenir Keyrings?“, Snopes. April 2012.
  2. “Live animals sold as keychains in China” AsiaOne March 2017
  3. Put a Stop to Live Animals in Keychains and Mobile Phone Trinkets in China!“, The Petition Site.
  4. CAAWS.
  5. STOP living animals keychain/lucky charm in China“, Avaaz.