Chinese man’s grisly online joke about eating endangered species earns him 5 days’ detention

Social media user posted gruesome images of butchered animals in bid to be more popular online

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 February, 2018, 2:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 February, 2018, 5:20pm

A Chinese man who posted images of butchered animals, mostly rare and endangered species, on social media and joked about how they were being prepared for a Lunar New Year dinner has been given five days’ detention.

The gory pictures that accompanied the message showed a chopped-up crocodile in a bucket, a small shark on a chopping board, a man holding a severed bear’s paw, and a sink laden with assorted dead beasts, including a pangolin.

The images were uploaded to Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, on Thursday, Lunar New Year’s Eve and the day on which it is traditional for Chinese families to gather for a festive feast. A simple caption read, “Someone’s reunion dinner at home”.

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The gruesome post soon went viral online and was spotted by the State Forestry Administration, which then appealed via its Weibo account for help in identifying its source.

Despite their protected status, many of the animals shown in the images are considered delicacies in China and can change hands for large sums of money. They are also associated with the lavish banquets that were once commonplace among corrupt Chinese officials.

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With the public’s help, the animal protection agency was soon able to trace the original poster, and a man surnamed Rao, from central China’s Hunan province, was apprehended on Friday afternoon, it said online.

In his defence, Rao said that the post was intended only as a joke and that the animals pictured had not been butchered or eaten – at least not by him and his family.

All of the photographs had been downloaded from the internet or shared by his friends on social media, and several of them had been Photoshopped, he said, adding that he had just been trying to create a popular post.

Despite Rao apologising both to the forestry administration and Weibo users in general, the authorities were unimpressed and he was detained for spreading fake information online.

The animal protection agency said it was now trying to verify the sources of the images.