Strange stories have long emerged from China detailing the trade and consumption of all varieties of exotic animals. Earlier this year, for example, a bunch of gang members were arrested after a man in Chengdu called police because he saw blood dripping through his ceiling. Upstairs, cops uncovered body parts from red pandas, black bears, and monkeys, including two live golden snub-nosed monkeys, in what amounted to an underground exotic meat locker and butcher shop.
Traditional Chinese medicine and traditions of delicacy prize certain critically endangered exotic animals or their body parts. Whether it's tiger penises or pangolins or rhino horns, where there's a demand, there's a market. But at last, there's some good news for furry and finned friends in China: The killing and eating of anything on China's list of state-protected animals is now illegal.
The Chinese government banned the production and sale of food made from state-protected wild animals last week, promising to update the list of what's protected every five years as populations in the wild recover or take a dive. Shanghaiist notes that, curiously, it was apparently legal to make panda burgers until the law was passed.
Most existing laws having to do with exotic or endangered animals concern the hunting and sale of the animals, leaving a gaping loophole that leaves out cooking and eating the animals at home or in a restaurant once the meat had passed through a few hands. Now, eating a protected animal could come with criminal prosecution. In the past, eating, say, a critically endangered giant salamander could cause trouble—but only in terms of punishment for the restaurant that overcharged for giant salamander meat, that is, or bad publicity for cops who decide to chow down on giant salamander at a celebratory meal.
Hopefully the new law will lead to rebounds in the populations of some endangered species, but they may want to reproduce with some restraint—thrive too much, and they may be back on the menu.