Police in Hanoi made the discovery of the week on Tuesday, when they stopped a truck on its way in from China with a truly odd haul. Its cargo: more than three tons of cats, all alive and caged. Those cats’ destination? Well…
The truck, it turns out, was going to deliver the live cats to a number of meat markets in the Thai Binh and Namh Dinh provinces. Their ultimate destination: the plates of restaurant patrons in those areas.
When questioned by the police, the driver of the truck said that he had bought all of the cats at the border area. All three tons of cat, it appears, came from within China.
As Thanh Nien News notes, smuggling cats out of China isn’t exactly a new offense, but it appears to have seen an uptick in frequency as of late.
In many other parts of the world, cats and dogs are looked upon in a somewhat sacred sense. As valued house pets and companions, cats enjoy a decidedly non-food status in some parts of the world, with some owners going to great lengths to ensure the safety of their pets. Animal rights activists from these parts of the world have condemned the consumption of cat and dog meat in countries like Vietnam.
The truck carrying the – again – three tons of live cats was heading for the biggest two markets for cat meat in Vietnam. In Thai Binh and Nam Dinh, cat meat is considered by some to be a delicacy. Sometimes, cat meat is served at wedding parties and other big occasions.
Officially, though, cat and dog meat consumption is prohibited in Vietnam. Officials have tried to curb both the smuggling and consumption of cat meat by warning locals of the danger of rabies, fungal skin diseases, and typhoid fever. Additionally, there is the risk of Toxoplasmosis gondii, a parasitic organism that makes its homes in cats and is transmissible to humans.
Despite those efforts, the trade in illegal cat meat goes on, and it is thriving, as evidenced by this latest stop. The truck driver carrying the three tons of cat was arrested, but reports don’t say what will happen to him.
The case does rase an even more interesting conundrum: just what to do with the cats. In Vietnam, smuggled products are supposed to be destroyed, and the cats are arguably no different. Authorities are reportedly looking into the issue, saying that they will deal with the cats “in accordance with the laws,” but not saying whether they will destroy them or not.
[Lead image via the Week.]