China 2023-09-15T04:53:55+03:00
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Exotic pets grow in popularity, raise concern in China

Exotic pets grow in popularity, raise concern in China

China, animals, PRC, Exotic pet, Veterinary Medicine
Visitors observing a lizard on display during the 22nd Pet Fair Asia held in Shanghai. Photo by Xinhua/Chen Fei.
Visitors observing a lizard on display during the 22nd Pet Fair Asia held in Shanghai. Photo by Xinhua/Chen Fei.

Exotic pet experience stores offering pet interaction have won the hearts of young urbanites in China through the growing presence of chubby pigs, silly call ducks and even icy cold reptiles. This was reported by The Xinhua News Agency.

Though coffeehouses with cute cats and dogs romping around are quite common nowadays for pet lovers in China's big cities, drinking coffee while playing with snakes and lizards is a niche hobby. However, such shops are gaining popularity among Chinese and going viral on social media platforms.

"The pursuit of individuality gives rise to exotic pet keepers. Such reptiles are hard to reach in our daily life, so the customers can enjoy an unusually exciting experience in my coffee shop", – said Wang Junlin,  who runs an exotic pet coffee outlet in Yuzhong District of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

Wang himself has kept snakes and lizards at home as pets for five years.

Such diverse tastes in selecting animal buddies also lead to a huge market for exotic pets. In a specialized pet store in Chongqing, there are a great variety of pets including rabbits, tortoises and lizards. The price of one lizard can vary from ¥120 (about $17.7) to thousands of yuan.

Different from common feeds for cats and dogs, exotic pets consume more expensive food like special worms and specific vegetables.

Liu Xinyu, a 10-year-old boy, bought a turtle, accompanied by his grandpa.

"Raising a turtle is relatively simple for him. Keeping a pet like this may help cultivate the child's sense of responsibility", – said Liu's grandfather.

Data released by the market research firm, iResearch, shows that the market scale of China's pet industry reached nearly ¥300 bln in 2020. Among the sought-after pets, birds and reptiles accounted for just 9%, while amphibians occupied about 4% of the market.

As value often depends on scarcity, such exotic pet options began to gain favor with urbanites in China's major cities, especially the young generation born after 1990, according to the iResearch report.

However, such a pet fad also aroused public concerns.

"Raising exotic pets may impose risks to species protection, ecological security as well as individual and public health", – said Wu Jianyun, associate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Southwest University.

"Some of the exotic pets have their origins abroad and were smuggled into the country. The global craving for exotic pets has fueled the rampant illegal trafficking of living wildlife and protected species", – said Wu.

In the first quarter of this year, China's customs authorities intercepted 173 species of quarantine pests and rejected 23,300 unqualified animals during overseas pre-inspection, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs.

Experts including Wu recommend further enhancement of international and regional cooperation in combating cross-border wildlife smuggling activities.

"Research on disease prevention and breeding management of exotic pets should be carried out. In the meantime, the selling, purchasing and raising of exotic pets should be subject to improved regulations", – Wu added.

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