An Australian traveller says he was horrified to find a live koala for sale at a restaurant in southern China where the menu was offering the iconic marsupial for dinner in either ‘‘braised or stewed’’ varieties. A sign on the cage holding the animal advertised ‘‘koalas’’ for purchase at a rate of 139 Yuan ($AUD 20) for 500 grams.
It was one of a number of exotic animals, including birds and fish, on live display at the restaurant in Panyu district, Guangdong.The traveller, who visited the area last week, climbed down on his hands and knees and snapped a photograph of the caged animal, which was lying next to a carrot.
The man’s colleague told radio 3AW he was stunned to be given the option of chowing down on the cuddly creature. ‘‘It’s 100 per cent right, that photo,’’ the caller said today. ‘‘There’s a carrot in the cage, the idiots have put a carrot in there. ‘‘The restaurant had a large selection of birds, fish and other sort of exotic animals on display that the diner could chose from for their gastronomic delight.’’
A later caller suggested that animal was an Asian ‘‘tree bear’’ of some variety, however the traveller who took the photograph says he was convinced it was a koala. It prompted a call from Melbourne businessman Geoff Balsillie, who was similarly disturbed recently to find live caged animals for sale in a restaurant in an area neighbouring Panyu in southern China.
‘‘I was taken to a restaurant for lunch by my host … and after the lunch I went to check the plumbing and found all of these cages with all these animals so I took a few photos,’’ he told radio 3AW. ‘‘There was an egret, a marmot, some water fowl and a few others. I’m not sure whether they were on the menu.
There were signs on the cages with numbers on them, telling you how much they were. I don’t know whether that was for a gram or for the whole beast, but they were obviously for sale. There was also the fish and snakes and the turtles and all the other things that they normally eat as well, but these animals were the ones that sort of got to me.’’
Mr Balsillie complained to his Chinese host, who tipped off police and the restaurant was soon raided, he said.
‘‘They released the animals and she [his host] said she didn’t win any friends,’’ Mr Balsillie said.