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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Netizens rally to aid of captive seals

By Liu Ce and Wu Yong  (China Daily)

08:38, March 01, 2012

A seal being raised in a pool at Chang An Grand Hotel in Beijing on Feb 22. Raising seals for entertaining customers in restaurants and hotels has sparked heated debate recently. (Zhang Bei / for China Daily)

SHENYANG - Raising seals for the entertainment of customers in restaurants and hotels has sparked heated discussion among animal welfare experts interested in saving the State-protected species.

A dispute on whether restaurants should be allowed to raise seals heated up after netizens across the country participated in an online "taking pictures to rescue harbor seals" campaign.

Panjin Harbor Seal Protection Volunteer Association, located in Panjin, in North China's Liaoning province, and Green Beagle, an NGO in Beijing, launched the campaign last May.

Thanks to the efforts of the netizens, a list of 43 harbor seals raised by more than 20 hotels and restaurants has been produced, Tian Jiguang, head of the Panjin association, confirmed to China Daily on Wednesday.

However, it is just the tip of the iceberg. "This is only the confirmed number. There are more, in fact," Tian said.

On Thursday, International Day of the Seal, Tian and his team will mount a photo exhibition in downtown Panjin to raise public awareness.

"Restaurants take in the seals as a stunt to attract customers, and this encourages poaching. It is a devastating blow to the endangered species," he said.

"How would you feel if you were kept in a narrow, smelly pool for entertainment?" Wang Yina, a volunteer who participated in the campaign, said.

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