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Police in Baoying, Jiangsu province, detained 35 suspects across the country who allegedly bought or sold 36 macaques. Investigators got information from a livestream account showing a woman keeping one of the animals at home.
The woman, surnamed Pan, had livestreamed a macaque jumping around in various kinds of clothes on livestreaming app Kuaishou since July 2017. The 27-year-old attracted thousands of followers, and many asked where they could buy macaques.
In October, the account drew the attention of local police, who later sent the monkey to a judicial authentication center affiliated with Nanjing Forest Police College and confirmed that it was indeed a macaque.
"Macaques are listed in China as a Level II protected species," said Liu Peng, a police officer with the Baoying Public Security Bureau. "According to China"s Wildlife Protection Law, anyone who sells, purchases or uses such animals - or products made with them - must be approved by provincial-level wildlife management departments."
Pan admitted that she spent 11,000 yuan ($1,660) to buy the macaque from another Kuaishou user after watching her livestream some macaques, the police said. She sent the money to the seller on WeChat and picked up the macaque at a long-distance bus station.
The seller, surnamed Ma, and her boyfriend, surnamed Li, livestreamed video of about eight macaques to attract followers. They bought the macaques for 8,000 yuan and sold them at a profit.
In February, after further investigation, police detained a suspect surnamed Bao, who ran a macaque farm in Xinye, Henan province.
"He sold the macaques to Ma and Li without asking for any documents," said Liu. "He argued that it was in the macaques" best interest to sell them because they could get better nutrition and more attention from buyers."
However, police found that of the 36 macaques he had sold, only 16 were still alive when they were rescued. The others died during long-distance delivery, or due to bad environments or improper feeding.
The rescued macaques, about three to four months old, have been sent to a rescue center at the Zhuyuwan Zoo in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province.
Liu Qiang, vice-captain of the police bureau, said that most people buy the animals to show off and do not pay attention to their physical or psychological health.
"They want to draw attention by having rare animals, and they must be punished for their behavior. Bao will be charged with the crime of selling precious and endangered wild animals, and other suspects will be punished according to the law."
Luo Zhen, a lawyer at Shanghai Alshine Law Firm, said anyone selling 36 macaques without legal permission could be sentenced to five or more years in prison.
She added that once the hosts of livestreaming apps notice illegal content, they must stop transmitting, retain the videos and report to the police.
"The apps should take their social responsibility seriously and scrutinize the content livestreamed on their platforms," Luo said.
Guo Jun contributed to this story.make your own silicone wristbands ukrubber bracelets animalssilicone wristbands johannesburgsilicon braceletsbuild your own wristband