Friday, March 5, 2010

Asian restaurant mistreatment of animals behind California ban on importation of turtles and frogs

From the Los Angeles Times:
Animal welfare advocates have long argued that food markets, often in Asian communities, kept the live animals in horrible conditions. “The turtles are upside down in the sun, no food, no water,” Tellem said. “They are slaughtered inhumanely.”

Sometimes people cook them live. “They’ll put the turtles in a frying pan, and they die very slowly,” Tellem said.

Tellem said animal-welfare arguments in the past had not convinced the commissioners to ban the importation of what she says are an estimated 2 million bullfrogs and 300,000 red-eared sliders coming into the state each year. This time, the advocates contended there were safety and environmental reasons to stop sales.

“We ended up changing our argument and saying they are non-native animals being released into the wild and they’re killing our native pond turtles,” she said.

People often buy the live animals to save them from death, she said, then release them into ponds and oceans where they are not indigenous and they either die or eat other species. Ravenous bullfrogs, she said, scarf up turtle eggs and baby turtles.
Perhaps I'm naïve, but the obvious solution, maybe, is that the ravenous bullfrogs should be matched up against the ravenous (?) imported turtles in a fight to the death (or at least the ravenous bullfrogs should be pointed in the direction of the Asian turtles' eggs). It would make a great video game, and perhaps even a Disney cartoon.

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  1. Kush,

    Ever watch Bear Grylls on Man vs. Wild? He ate a turtle and said it was "good meat."

    He cooked it in the shell and just devoured it!

    There was another survivor themed reality show where a team shot, killed and ate a porcupine and declared that it was delicious. They said it tasted like slow cooked pulled pork.

  2. I have never seen that show. And I'm sure it was good. Lots of things we don't eat today are good.

    But that sort of underscores my point, if in fact I had one: People tend to look at exotic foods as more cruel, and Asians are the epitome of peoples exoticized by Whites.

    Interestingly, though, the other day the NYT had a feature on eating rabbit, which is something I did growing up (along with squirrels, sharks, and other things my dad thought we should eat so we wouldn't be wusses), but which many people in America freak out about. (I heard about this on my iPod during my daily jog, but I notice The Korean has something about it as well.)

    Anyway, I just think it's interesting that people are so up in arms about animal cruelty with Asian foods like frogs and turtles, but the same groups aren't as up in arms about, say, the way California raises and processes its cows, pigs, and chickens. (And maybe they should.)

  3. When I was in South Africa with my fiancee, we saw what appeared to be a charred bowl in the barbecue pit near the beach. Upon closer inspection, it was an empty turtle shell -- presumably grilled in that pit.

    As a side note, there was a Chinese tour bus nearby. :)

  4. AAK,

    Chinese tour bus nearby? That's cold!


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