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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  1. J Davidson says:

    How bad can it get????

  2. christina Knapp says:

    What exactly is wrong with all people on this EARTH, our home who act like every living animal on earth is game for them to use, kill, eat and or exploit??
    Humans are the most disgusting life form on the planet, and I am embarassed and saddened to be part of the species. Too bad we cannot take ALL HUMANS who have dreamt these things up, kill and mistreat animals, torture and kill and put them in a vending machines, use them for testing cosmetics or chemicals, exploit and raise them, kidnap them for their own monetary gain and EAT them at fast food restaurants and ALL WHO HAVE ANYTHING to do with any of this and PUT THEM INTO A VENDING MACHINE or WORSE!!

  3. Jane Morrow says:

    China yet again, no surprise. Your lack of empathy for any other living thing is disgusting. Deplorable country.

    • While this is completely sickening, you cannot generalise the entire populace of 1.3 billion people. This would be akin to saying because some disgusting individuals in, say, France for example, produce and consume fois gras, that France is a deplorable country. China has its problems, but to imply that no-one in that country finds something like this as sickening as the rest of the world, shows the same amount of disregard for the Chinese people as you say they show for “other living things”. Every country in the world has wretched people, in and out of government, that will exploit anything and everything to make a buck, not just China. This is nothing but an ignorant and intolerant comment, and in broader terms xenophobic.

  4. I sell these crabs in china and greater Asia ,
    You idiots do not realise that in nature these crabs live in confined mud holes for most of the year and they feel most comfortable in a confined space,

    • Katalin Apathy says:

      I can only wish that you’ll end up in the same way. You and all the animal torturers do not deserve anything better.

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