A woman in eastern China is facing legal charges after dumping 12.5 tonnes of exotic catfish in a local lake as part of a Buddhist ritual for good luck and letting them die off.
The ancient ritual involves taking a captive animal and releasing it to freedom in order to gain favour.
It took local workers 10 days to remove the massive amounts of dead fish from the lake.
The woman – named Ms Xu in local media in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province – was in poor health and often fell ill.
In order to pray for blessings, she performed an old Buddhist ritual which involved her buying 12.5 tonnes of exotic catfish and releasing them into a local lake, where she left them to die.
Ms Xu had spent a whopping CNY 90,000 (GBP 10,900) in procuring massive amounts of Clarias, a species of catfish, for her ritual.
She then secretly released them into a large lake in the city in December of 2021.
But soon after entering the water, almost all of the fish died.
Local prosecutors have initiated a public interest lawsuit against Ms Xu, after her bid to perform the age-old ritual – known as fangsheng – had government workers removing the die-offs for 10 days.
They had reportedly retrieved more than 10 tonnes of dead catfish after Ms Xu’s improper release, and could not salvage the remaining 2.5 tonnes.
It was reportedly decided to let them continue living in the lake instead.
Fangsheng is a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition which involves ‘life release’ meant to save captive creatures from slaughter in return for good luck and fortune in life.