Thousands Volunteer To Adopt Hamsters Amid COVID-19 Fears In Hong Kong

Oh no… the poor hamsters!

Thousands of people in Hong Kong volunteered on Wednesday (January 19th) to adopt unwanted hamsters after a mass cull order from the government over COVID-19 fears raised alarm that panicky owners would abandon their pets. 

thousands volunteer to adopt hamsters amid covid-19 fears in hong kongPhoto via Financial Times

According to Reuters, Hong Kong authorities ordered 2,000 hamsters from dozens of pet shops and storage facilities to be culled after tracing a coronavirus outbreak to a worker in the Little Boss pet shop, where 11 hamsters subsequently tested positive for the virus. 

Though scientists around the world and the Hong Kong health and veterinary authorities have said there was no evidence that animals play a major role in human contagion with the virus…

However, having pursued a policy of zero tolerance for COVID-19, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Tuesday (January 18th) that she could not rule out any transmission possibilities and therefore, the government could take no chances. 

thousands volunteer to adopt hamsters amid covid-19 fears in hong kongPhoto via CNA

Health workers in hazmat suits were seen walking out of pet shops around the city carrying red plastic bags into their vans. Some 150 of the petshop’s customers were sent into quarantine.

Some hamster owners were seen handing over their animals at a government facility, while a group swiftly formed on social media to identify new owners for unwanted pet rodents. 

The group ‘Hong Kong the Cute Hamster’ group on Telegram said it was contacted by almost 3,000 people willing to take care of unwanted animals temporarily.  

27-year-old Bowie, one of those who volunteered in the group, is now the owner of two new hamsters despite owning three other hamsters himself. 

“This is ridiculous. Animals’ life is also life. Today it can be hamsters or rabbits, tomorrow it can be dogs or cats,” he said.

thousands volunteer to adopt hamsters amid covid-19 fears in hong kongPhoto via The Brussels Times

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) which runs veterinary clinics said numerous worried pet owners have been contacting them for advice.

“We urge the pet owners to not panic or abandon their pets,” SPCA said in a statement.

SPCA also listed ways to maintain strict personal hygiene for the safety of humans and animals, including never to kiss, cough at or snort near their pets, and washing hands after handling them.

Ala, so kesian! Please don’t abandon your pets, guys… 

And please ask a veterinarian for advice if you suspect that your animals are not feeling well.

By: Aishah Akashah Ahadiat