A Chinese food blogger who sparked fury after cooking and eating an endangered great white shark in a TikTok video has been slapped with a hefty fine by Chinese authorities.
In a statement on Saturday, officials in the city of Nanchong said they had fined a woman named as Jin 125,000 yuan ($18,522) for illegally buying and eating a wild animal.
The woman—who officials said was known on social media by her username Tizi—had bought the shark for 7,700 yuan ($1,141) on Alibaba-owned shopping site Taobao, authorities said, before filming herself cooking the 2-meter-long predator in a spicy broth and eating its meat.
“It may look vicious, but its meat is truly very tender,” Tizi, who has millions of followers, said in the video, which went viral on social media platforms Douyin—the Chinese version of TikTok—and Kuaishou.
She was then filmed tearing chunks of the shark’s flesh off of its carcass with her teeth.
Officials said on Saturday that they began investigating claims made against the influencer in August, identifying the fish used in her video as a great white shark via DNA testing leftover tissues.
Two other people involved in catching and selling the shark had also been arrested, they added.
Eating wild shark meat, which often contains toxins like mercury and ciguatera, can be extremely harmful to humans.
Despite the health risks, it is eaten by humans in various parts of the world, with shark fin soup considered a delicacy in traditional Chinese cuisine.
Is eating shark illegal in China?
Consumption of the meat in China has dropped massively in recent years, however, as authorities have clamped down on using the animals as a food source.
Great white sharks—the species Tizi ate in her infamous video—are classified as vulnerable to extinction by the WWF, meaning they are close to being classed as endangered.
The organization says great white sharks’ numbers are decreasing thanks to years of being hunted for their fins and teeth.
In China, great whites are an endangered species that are legally protected by the state.
Under Chinese law, the hunting, catching or killing of any protected species is banned, as is the transporting, buying and selling of them. The law also prohibits the eating of hundreds of endangered species—with those who break the rules liable to face up to 10 years in prison.
In 2020, China introduced a blanket ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals in a bid to protect public health following the outbreak of COVID-19.
It is unclear whether Tizi is facing any further legal punishment in addition to her monetary penalty.
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