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July 14, 2012

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Untangling web of spider imports

A PACKAGE with more than 300 living spiders was intercepted by Shanghai entry-exit authorities, officials said yesterday morning.

The Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said they recently found 373 living spiders, mostly tarantulas, in a package mailed from Hungary.

Each spider was sealed in a small tube. The spiders were expected to be sold in China as pets, officials said.

To prevent the local ecological environment from being damaged by alien species, the spiders will either be returned to Hungary or destroyed.

The spiders were likely purchased on the Internet to be sold across China, said Ye Jun, deputy director of the bureau's inspection center.

Ye told that if the spiders escaped from someone's home they would probably jeopardize the local ecological environment by threatening native species. He didn't say whether they were poisonous or not.

The bureau said the illegal shipment of alien species including insects, animals and plants has increased this year.

Wang Jian, the bureau's media coordinator, said: "Turtles and spiders are popular now. We had intercepted a batch of turtles in 2008 and another one in 2010.

"Last year we intercepted three batches of turtles and one batch of spiders. This year, we have already seized four batches of turtles and two batches of spiders."

Most of the turtles were from Africa, Japan and South America while the spiders were mostly from Hungary, Germany and Thailand, Wang told Shanghai Daily.

It's more common to intercept plant species, Wang added.

In the early half of this year, more than 18,000 batches of alien species were intercepted, up nearly 40 percent from last year's 13,000, the bureau said.

Although foreign insect and reptile sales are illegal in China, thousands of spiders, lizards and even centipedes can easily be found on, China's major online retail website.

Bureau official Song Hong said improving living standards means more people have the time and ability to grow plants or raise exotic pets.

Song added that online shopping has made it easier for people to buy such pets as they are delivered to their home.


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