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Exotic animal trade thrives in China

By Wang Xiaodong  (China Daily)

08:59, October 23, 2012

A woman kisses a lizard as people gather together to share experiences about cultivating cold-blooded reptiles at Jilin in Jilin province. DING DONG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A long, yellow-gray snake lay motionless in a glass box. On one side, in a separate container, a hairy, black spider about the size of a chicken egg stalked its lair. On the other, a lizard fidgeted in a sand box.

It was the kind of display ordinarily found at a zoo.

Yet the unusual menagerie was not in a zoo but in a nondescript Beijing store — and all of these exotic creatures were for sale.

On a weekend afternoon, roughly a dozen people crammed into a small, square room in a secluded corner of Guanyuan Pet Market in the capital's Haidian district. Some were there out of curiosity, others to buy.

"The store owner just told me the lizards are 3,000 yuan ($480) each," said Li Zhi, a middle school student who had been browsing with a friend. "It's too expensive. My spider only cost 170 yuan."

He said he bought the spider — a species called Chilean rose — from an Internet trader. It lives in a glass cage in his living room.

"It's about 10 cm in diameter now" Li said. "I like spiders. They look cute, they don't bite unless cornered, and even if I am bitten, it doesn't matter because they are not poisonous. Having a spider is no big deal."

Several other stores in the two-floor, underground market also had lizards, scorpions and spiders on display.


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