China's animal 'mystery box' fad causes outrage after kittens, puppies die inside

China's animal 'mystery box' fad causes outrage after kittens, puppies die inside
Photo credit: Weibo

A trend where animals are sold in mystery parcels and sent by post has caused outrage in China after puppies were found dead.

The discovery of cats and dogs traded in the 'blind boxes' has prompted calls for action on the trade as well as the purchasing of animals online in general, according to Chinese media. 

The BBC reports people could also order parcels containing other animals, such as tortoises, lizards and rats, on sites such as Taobao.

Chengdu Aizhijia Animal Rescue Centre told local media they had located 160 tormented cats and dogs inside a courier company's truck on May 3. 

The rescue group said all the animals were under three-months-old and several had died. 

"The cargo box is full of screams from cats and puppies," the rescue group posted on social media site Weibo. 

Footage posted to the site shows volunteers comforting the animals, feeding them and ensuring they received health inspections. 

The rescue centre announced they had brought the animals back to their base to be rehomed, and 38 were undergoing medical treatment. 

Despite the transportation of live animals being illegal in China, local media found the mystery boxes to be very popular.  But the incident has infuriated people on Chinese social media, and individuals are now calling for a boycott.

One person commented on a video of the trade: "Have we made any achievements in the rescue and management of stray animals? Now there is a pet blind box industry?" 

Another wrote: "Let's talk about boycotting pet blind boxes again. What they need is a home, not an uncertain possibility." 

Courier company ZTO, which was caught transporting the animal boxes discovered in Chengdu, publicly apologised that it had broken the country's postal regulations, People's Daily Online reported. 

The person in charge of the delivery was suspended and had his annual performance bonus deducted.