Stop the Sale of Live Crabs in Chinese Vending Machines

Target: Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress

Goal: Ban live crabs from being sold in vending machines

In Chinese subway stations and streets, vending machines holding live hairy crabs are becoming increasingly popular. The crabs are kept in single pods which do not allow them any movement, and kept alive just above freezing temperature. The crabs can be kept indefinitely in this condition, with no water, food, or fresh air.

Hairy crabs, found in Chinese inland lakes, are considered a delicacy due to their sweet flesh. Most popular during the fall harvest season, increasing local demand has prompted retailers to begin using vending machines so that live, fresh crabs are available during the nighttime and early morning hours.

The crabs are either tied up with thick strings or placed in a plastic case designed to be dropped into boiling water. Since most people only look at the crabs in the machine without buying them, the mortality rate is high. They are dispensed with vinegar and ginger tea, should the buyer wish to crack the shell immediately and eat it raw.

Confining hairy crabs to tight vending machines with no food or water is cruelty for the sake of convenience. The low sale and high mortality rate of the crabs is proof that this practice is unnecessary and simply an inconsiderate marketing tool. Even a crowded market tank would provide more comfort. Your signature will demand that the National People’s Congress of China ban the sale of hairy crabs and other live creatures in vending machines.


Dear Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress,

Vending machines carrying live hairy crabs are being found in Chinese streets and subways in increasing numbers. Crabs inside the machines are confined to tiny plastic containers or have their legs and claws bound by thick strings. The creatures have no food, water, or fresh air. The crabs are left in the nearly-freezing machines for prolonged periods of time, oftentimes resulting in death. Sometimes, the crabs are dismembered immediately by the buyer and eaten raw before being killed.

The convenience that this practice offers to a few people is cruel and wasteful. The low sale and high mortality rates suggest that these creatures, considered a delicacy, would be best left in market tanks. I ask that you ban vending machines that carry hairy crabs and other live animals.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Christian Fischer via Creative Commons

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233 Signatures

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