A dark trend of ordering 'mystery animals' through the post inside 'blind boxes' has led to a horrific outcome.
The gift boxes are rising in Chinese businesses where they sell live animals inside them, from dogs, cats, turtles, and even spiders.
Starting as a mystery toy box by Pop Mart, a billion-dollar company, online vendors now offer a sick twist on the concept, by replacing a toy with a mystery pet.
However, the gloomy side of the purchases means the animals are crammed into the packages and wait to be shipped across the country.
Animal welfare activities in Chengdu, China, made a horrific discovery of a large batch on Monday evening.
Stacks of boxes ready to be shipped at a local logistics depot had living cats and dogs inside them.
They had arrived at the depot inside crates disguised to look like regular express deliveries and were meant to be shipped to various cities across the country.
Volunteers from the animal welfare group tried to help the animals by feeding them glucose water with syringes through holes in the crates, reports Sixth Tone.
Dozens of helpless cats and dogs rescued from tiny filthy cages and illegal breeders
However, not all survived and four had died by Tuesday.
Stores have been offering blind boxes with mystery animals since January and have been active on platforms like Taobao and Pinduoduo.
In most instances, buyers aren't allowed to select a specific breed or return the animals.
Sending live animals in the post in regular express delivery packages is illegal, but is still going ahead in China.
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In the city, neighbours heard animals howling inside the depot for two weeks, according to Zhou, a member of the animal group.
“Most of the boxes say the animals are offspring of expensive dog breeds, but they’re just rural dogs,” Zhou said.
“People buy them, and once they find they don’t like what’s in the blind box, they return the animals or just abandon them.”
The activists posted photos and videos of the animals to Chinese social media and there was outcry from the public.
Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site, commenters condemned the vendors and the customers, logistic companies and law enforcement that allow the trades to happen.
Police told local media they had no power to deal with the issue.
A statement from ZTO Express, the logistics firm that owns the center, said one of the company's security directors was suspended after the incident.
Animals who survived the depot have been transferred to a local pet store where they are quarantining.
After this, they are planned to be taken to a rescue centre and any sick animals will be treated.
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