Self-Service Pet Vending Machines Spark Outrage in China

Photos and videos of unmanned vending machines selling live animals like cats, small dogs, and rodents installed in various Chinese cities have been going viral and sparking outrage among the general public.

The significant technological developments of the last decade have created a fast-growing “unmanned economy” that continues to spread into almost every sector of the global economy. However, there are still some industries that are incompatible with unmanned, self-service devices. The pet-selling sector has so far been considered incompatible, but things are apparently very different in China, as more and more unmanned vending machines selling live pets are being spotted all around the country. One such video showing a pet vending machine in a busy part of Beijing recently went viral on Chinese social media, sparking a heated debate around the ethics of this controversial business model.

The viral video showed cats sleeping in small compartments barely large enough for them to turn around in, with only a transparent door to distract them from their claustrophobic cages. The vending machine was reportedly advertised as the first in China to sell live pets, but several netizens pointed out that they had seen similar displays in various other Chinese cities. This was later confirmed by news reports that showed other pet vending machines, as well as online ads by companies producing them.

Although the animals shown in the viral video didn’t seem distressed or sick, several comments on Weibo mentioned sick animals and even some that had died in their small cages due to lack of proper care.

“The education I received since childhood is to be a kind person, if you can’t do it, you must not have a basic conscience. Can these specimens with the same body as me really be called human beings?” one person asked on Weibo.


“This land does not have basic respect for life!” someone else wrote.

This isn’t the first display of animal cruelty that begs the question “Who approved that?” After all, this is the same country that brought us “living keychains” with small fish and turtles encased in plastic containers, artificially dyed frogs, and dyed chicks.

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