Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bird Market in Yueyang, Hunan

While exploring the city of Yueyang (map) in China's Hunan province yesterday, I stumbled upon a large market area with live birds for sale -- not as pets but as food. I didn't spend a long time there but it made a rather large impression, so I'll share some photos of what I saw. Especially as someone who eats meat, I feel I have an obligation to at least be aware of the experiences of animals that could end up on my plate. (Mild warning: Some of the photos below include blood and bird innards, however there are no images of birds being slaughtered.)

In one very large area of the market there were a numerous pens filled with a variety of birds:

Ducks, chickens, and more...


Though some of the birds, such as the pigeons below, had smaller accommodations.

several pigeons in a cage
They'd probably be happier strutting about in a town square.

However, the birds were not there to mingle and at some point it would be time for them to take, um, a trip:

a duck quacking while on a cart with a variety of birds
I can only imagine what the duck was expressing.

While some of the birds are kept alive after being sold, many of them will first visit another area of the market where they will be slaughtered and cleaned:

area for slaughtering and cleaning birds

area for slaughtering and cleaning birds
Apparently there had been quite a bit of slaughtering that day.

scene of blood and buckets filled with bird innards
The mess and leftovers

After that, the birds are finally "free" from the market:

man carrying several dead and cleaned birds
Man carrying some very fresh food

Most of the people in the market seemed surprised to see a foreigner walking around and a few laughed as I took photos. These people even took a break from their lunch to shout out "hello" as I passed by:

four people huddled around a hotpot
I wonder if they're eating chicken.

So, if you're ever in Yueyang and want to visit the market yourself I can provide general directions. However, given its size and location I wouldn't be surprised if it soon ended up like this nearby place:

demolished land with older apartment buildings in the background
A common scene in China

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