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Market's alligator meat plans axed
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2010-05-24 10:24

Plans to butcher and sell alligator meat at a newly opened branch of the Yonghui chain supermarket in Fengtai district, Beijing, were apparently called off Sunday, two days after a live two-meter long alligator had put on display in the store.

The alligator was seen bound to a counter covered with ice in the store's seafood section Saturday, the Beijing Times said. Sections of the alligator had reportedly been "booked" by customers with its slaughter being planned for Sunday.

But as of Sunday the alligator was no longer on display at the supermarket. "We don't have a license for selling exotic animals yet," a salesperson surnamed Huang working in the supermarket's seafood section told the Global Times. "It takes a really long time to get approval."

"We've stopped selling alligators for now," he added, "but we'll start selling them again as soon as we get the license." While Huang would not say what had happened to the alligator previously seen in the store, he did say that the alligator had come from an exotic animal farm. "Wild alligators are protected, but the ones we sell are completely legal."

According to Huang, prices per part of an alligator varies, with alligator limbs being the most expensive. "We charge 116 yuan ($17) per kilogram for limb meat."

Located near the South Third Ring Road, the supermarket opened for the first time Friday and sells fresh seafood and meat. In an apparent display of their product's freshness, a salesperson on Saturday reportedly showed the alligator's breathing belly to customers in the store, saying that the alligator was alive.

Zhang Ying, a customer seen shopping at the store Sunday, said it would be hard to believe a supermarket selling alligator. "Even if they were farm-raised, that's brutal! Especially if they had planned to slaughter them here," she said.

Since 2003, 54 farm-raised exotic animals species have been permitted for sale in China, according to Wang Zengnian, vice president of the Beijing Wildlife Conservation Association. "Alligators are on the list," Wang said, "but the store should have a license approved by the forestry bureau."

"It's inhumane for (the store) to sell live alligator and then kill them, "said Rebecca Cui, an employee at the animal rights group the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "Maybe they just wanted to create a stunt for the opening of the supermarket, but it's just unethical."


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