Blind boxes, where buyers can receive a box with a mystery gift inside, have been a popular phenomenon for a while in China. Toy brand POP MART shot to fame due to its much-loved blind boxes. But, the most recent blind box ‘craze’ has rightly caused huge controversy.
Profiting off Chinese consumers’ love of a surprise item, some merchants have recently been selling animal blind boxes which could include common pets, like cats and dogs, or more adventurous creatures, such as turtles and spiders. However, the consumer at the other end do not know which type of animal will arrive on their doorstep. These blind pet boxes have been sold and packaged by merchants on e-commerce sites Taobao and Pinduoduo and are transported across the country by couriers.
The market for live animal blind boxes was recently discovered at a collection point for the delivery courier Zhongtong in Chengdu. On 3 May, the Weibo account “Chengdu Aizhijia Animal Rescue Centre” (成都爱之家动物求助中心) shared videos of animals being sent to different destinations, including Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Guilin, Lanzhou, and Kunming. The account showed a full cargo box of kittens and puppies without any ventilation and exposed that more than 160 cats and dogs were being packed illegally.
The posts sparked outrage on social media as netizens protested about animal cruelty and commented that animals should not be considered as products. The hashtag “#pet blind boxes” (#宠物盲盒#) gained 430 million views on Weibo. In response, the police have started investigating the case and live pet blind boxes have been removed from all e-commerce platforms.