Video Credit: AsiaWire
Authorities are investigating after well-intentioned Buddhists reportedly released more than 1,000 rescued Arctic foxes into a mountainside amid claims that the captive-bred animals will find it difficult to survive.
Footage taken on the outskirts of Jilin, a city in north-eastern China’s Jilin Province, shows a lorry full of caged white foxes (Vulpes lagopus) which are said to have been saved from the fur trade.
The video circulating on social media shows what reports say are more than 1,000 animals, many of which appear overweight after having been specifically bred to several times their normal size in order to produce larger pelts.
The Buddhists, one of whom can be seen reading scripture next to the heavy goods vehicle filled with Arctic foxes, were practising what is known as ‘life release’, which involves setting free lives which were once destined for slaughter.
However, as the images show, many of the fat foxes have several rolls of fat on their body and around their face, and members of the public have raised real concerns about their chances of survival in the wild.
With the animals presumably having never hunted for prey in their life, it is unclear how the Buddhists performing life release were expecting the captive-bred foxes to survive in the wild on their own without human intervention.
Investigations into the release, which is prohibited by Chinese wildlife law unless approved with a permit from the forestry bureau, are understood to be ongoing.
Similar concerns were raised last month when a healthy Arctic fox – also bred in captivity and then released into the wild – was found in the mountains near the border with North Korea.
Wang Haijun, wildlife director at Jilin’s provincial Wildlife Rescue and Breeding Research Center, said at the time: “Snow foxes reared in captivity will find it difficult to survive, and may also cause an imbalance in the local ecosystem.
“There are no wild arctic foxes in China. It is illegal to release them into the wild.”
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