TIME China

5 Things You Need to Know About China’s Dog-Eating Festival

Winter Solstice Became Dog Slaughter Day in Guizhou
A dog is caged before slaughter in Guizhou, China, where many locals consume dog meat during the winter. TPG—Getty Images

As the annual festival sparks unprecedented backlash, here’s what you need to know beyond the howling protests

1. It’s real.

In Yulin, summer solstice marks the coming of the hottest days for the Chinese city. The remote, woody city (literally “jade forest”) celebrates the astronomical event—this year, June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere—with its annual dog-eating festival. The local tradition reportedly began in the 1990s, but the local practice of eating dog meat outdates written history.

According to Chinese lore, eating dog meat stimulates internal heat, making it a food that wards off winters’ cold. But on this inaugural day of summer, it’s a superstition that’s driving dog consumption: the meat is believed to bring good luck and health. At the festival, hotpots are fired up, lychees peeled and liquors poured. Animal activists estimate over 10,000 dogs are killed for the festival, according to China Daily, the government’s English-language mouthpiece.

2. China doesn’t have an animal protection law, but experts still claim the festival is illegal.

A draft law was proposed in 2009 to punish animal abusers with a 6000 yuan (over $900) fine and two weeks of detention. It also proposed that organizations found guilty of selling dog or cat meat be charged with a fine between 10,000 yuan ($1600) and 500,000 yuan ($80,000). To date, the National People’s Congress has not signed the law; it has yet to issue a statement on it.

Still, some legal experts argue the festival is illegal under regulations passed by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2013 which require laboratory quarantine for animals before transportation, a practice that’s “rare to see,” animal rights lawyer An Xiang told China Daily. Even more, many dogs are stolen, abducted, raised in households, making dog trade difficult to document (there are also dog farms, too). In 2011, though, Chinese activists stopped a truck transporting dogs to a restaurant and paid 115,000 yuan (then, around $17,000) to free the animals.

3. Outrage on social media over this year’s festival is unprecedented.

For years, hundreds of thousands of Chinese netizens have been vocal in opposing dog-eating festivals. Though keeping dogs as pets was banned during the Cultural Revolution, dog ownership has become popular among China’s growing middle-class.

This year, in addition to a petition, puppy rescues and editorials, many celebrities have joined in protesting Yulin’s festival on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. Actress Sun Li uploaded photos of her son with their adopted stray dog, and singer-actress Yang Mi posted a plea to end dog eating with an anti-Yulin festival poster that’s flooding Chinese social media. In the poster, a dog sheds a red tear, saying, “Please don’t eat us. We’re your friends.”

4. The festival may have begun early to avoid protestors.

Yulin locals have reportedly kicked-off the celebrations a week early to avoid activists and journalists, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Street vendors and restaurants selling dog meat have covered up the Chinese character for dog, too, in an effort to mitigate controversy.

5. Dog-eating festivals have been banned in the past, but Yulin officials claim the festival does not exist.

In 2011, Chinese authorities banned the Jinhua Hutou Dog Meat Festival after a widespread social media campaign launched by animal rights activists. The 600-year tradition, held annually in September, commemorated a fourteenth-century battle victory when a rebel leader ordered dogs in Jinhua to be slaughtered because their barking warned the city of his army’s approach.

In contrast, the Yulin Municipal People’s Government issued a statement on June 7 in response to the social media outrage, stating that while locals in recent years have hosted small gatherings to consume dog meat and lychees, a widespread festival for these activities has never existed.

“The so-called summer solstice lychee dog meat festival does not exist,” it reads. “Neither Yulin government nor social organizations have ever held such activities.”

TIME animals

Animals Dancing to ‘Push It’ Is the Cutest Video You’ll See Today

A tribute to the '80s classic

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The Internet is filled with videos with misleading titles. YouTube offers everything from the “Funniest Video Everrrrr” that turns out to be merely tweens throwing Pepsi cans at each other while playing video games to “Most Dramatic Save in the History of the World,” which is just some dude almost dropping a cantaloupe.

This video, though, is exactly what it claims to be: animals dancing to Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It.” The carefully curated collection of clips were edited together by the folks at Tastefully Offensive. The video shows animals ranging from a walrus to a parrot to a variety of cats and dogs all busting a move to the ’80s classic. Crank up the volume, and get ready to do your best running man in your cubicle or, at least, crack a smile.

MORE: There’s a New ‘How Animals Eat Their Food’ Video

MORE: Meet the Adorable Husky Who Thinks She’s a Cat

TIME animals

There’s a Kickstarter to Help People Experience Life as a Cat

Celebrate by knocking over a houseplant

For all those who have stretched out on the patch of sunlight your window illuminated on your living room floor, all-the-while wondering what life would be like if you were a cat: Have we got news for you.

Catlateral Damage—a first-person, destructive cat simulator, obviously—premiered last year and after receiving a positive response, it launched a Kickstarter to expand to become a full-fledged game. The project aims to earn $40,000 by July 11, and it is already more than $15,000 into its goal.

So what is Catlateral Damage? As the Kickstarter video explains, “Here’s you. You’re a cat! Go be a cat.”

That means human you gets to live a virtual existence as a catnip eating feline who runs around and knocks things over. Like books. And shoes. And plants. A more explicit explanation is as follows:

“Your goal is to reach the fancy mansion down the street and destroy the super secret, super valuable object hidden within its locked safe. You start in your home apartment, traversing and trashing various houses on the street until your reach the mansion. In each house, you start in a locked room and make messes in rooms to unlock adjacent ones.”

And the donation perks? With a $9,999 donation, founder Eitan Glinert will adopt a cat from a local animal shelter. “There is no limit! Make him adopt ALL THE CATS,” the Kickstarter reads. “He’ll periodically send you pitches of the cat, and you are invited to come and hang out with him or her when you are in Boston.”

The game will be available of Windows, Mac, Linux, and Ouya.

TIME Companies

Here’s the Huge Amazon News Nobody Is Talking About

Amazon Japan doubles goat workforce
Two goats eat weeds at a Tokyo condominium complex, where owners opted for a quieter, more natural lawn mowing. Toshifumi Kitamura —AFP/Getty Images

Amazon Japan is reportedly doubling its goat workforce

While Amazon’s recent ventures include music streaming and an online payment system, the latest is a new batch of goat hires in Japan.

Amazon Japan’s goats—now nearly 40 of them—were first hired last summer to manicure the company’s lawns, according to Kotaku, one of Gawker Media’s blogs. Every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the new-and-improved crew will graze the Amazon green, chomping away at weeds, grasses and other plants.

Amazon isn’t the first company to employ goats. In 2009, Google announced that a herder would bring 200 goats to spend a week eating and fertilizing their grass. In 2013, even Capitol Hill used goats to mow its lawns.

And though goat helpers aren’t a new invention, the ones at Amazon receive a special perk—each of them has their own employee badge.

TIME animals

China Won’t Let Pandas Make World Cup Predictions After All

Giant panda Ying Mei sits next to a box of food with the Brazilian flag on it, during an event called "Panda Predicts World Cup Results", ahead of the 2014 World Cup opening match between Brazil and Croatia, in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, June 12, 2014. China Daily / Reuters

Authorities worry the press would be more than the pandas could bear

China is backing out of a stunt in which pandas would make World Cup predictions, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Authorities worry that the swarm of people and cameras may jeopardize the health and safety of the animals, a spokesperson for China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas told the WSJ.

It was reported that the animals were expected to call matches by “either picking food from bowls marked with the national colors of competing teams, or climbing trees flying certain flags,” according to a post today on the WSJ blog China Real Time Report. According to the South China Morning Post, it was also suggested that pandas “would take part in races wearing the vests of different nations to predict winning teams.”

Fans will now have to turn to a Swiss guinea pig named Madame Shiva or a piranha named Pele for prognostications.

MORE: 1,600 Papier-mache Pandas Storm Hong Kong Airport

TIME animals

A Nursing Home for Dogs Is Opening in Japan

nursing home aeonpet group
Getty Images

The service is reportedly expected to cost $1,000 a month

A so-called “nursing home” for elderly dogs opens in Tokyo this month, The Telegraph and NBC News report.

The luxury retirement facility run by Aeon Pet, a subsidiary of the Japanese supermarket brand Aeon, is expected to start with 20 dogs, providing them access to a gym, swimming pool, and round-the-clock veterinary care. NBC News reports the cost will depend on dog size and breed, but is estimated to be $1,000 a month.

This concept may be considered a way to reduce the number of stray dogs that are killed. The Telegraph points out that there was a push in 2013 to make owners responsible for their pets until their deaths. “Elderly owners who are hospitalized may have no one to care for their pets and other owners may move to a new apartment that does not allow pets,” according to a Japan Times editorial published last year, which also argues some owners just do not realize how much care an animal needs long-term.

Aeon hopes to expand the concept nationwide.

(h/t The Week‘s Speed Reads)

MORE: Dogs-Only Swimming Pool in Spain

TIME animals

No One Loves Watching the World Cup More Than This Dog

Not even your quirky Brazilian neighbor or that one friend who all of a sudden loves soccer

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Look, plenty of people are really excited about the World Cup, but their enthusiasm is NOTHING compared to this dog’s. His name is Georges (which is an incredible name for a dog, by the way) and according to his human, he’ll spend hours watching the games. He doesn’t even care who wins or loses — he just wants to soak it all in.

(h/t HyperVocal)

TIME World Cup

Animals Around the World Celebrate the 2014 World Cup

These animals are having a ball celebrating the opening of the 2014 World Cup—some predict match outcomes, others wear team colors and play with soccer balls

TIME animals

These Puppies Were Born With Green Fur

The breeders are calling them their “Hulk pups”

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Two hunting dog breeders from Spain joked that their two tiny, green critters were “Hulk pups”—at least until they realized what might be causing their Granny Smith colored coats.

Daniel Valverde, a Spanish vet who is investigating the puppies’ fur, believes an exposure to biliverdin—a green bile pigment found in the placenta—may be to blame. That was the story behind a different green puppy who was born in the U.K. in 2012.

Though the pigmentation poses no known health risks, the two puppies were smaller and weaker than others in their litter. One died shortly after birth, which Valverde is also investigating.

Luckily, the surviving green puppy won’t be green for much longer. The condition resolves itself within weeks, and his green hue has already begun to fade, reported The Local, an English-language European news site.

TIME animals

This Video Shows What It’s Like to Come Face-to-Face With a Great White Shark

Yup, it's pretty scary

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Ever wonder what it would feel like to encounter a shark head-on in open waters? This video, shot with a GoPro camera in Sydney Harbour, Australia, claims to capture that experience. The man wearing the camera jumps off a cliff into the water and within moments, his friend above warns him of a shark lurking nearby. We can only imagine that this began to play in his heart:

 

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