Chinese Restaurants Caught Serving Protected Monkeys

Several restaurants and hotels in southeast China were shut down this week after they were caught serving rhesus monkeys, which are a state-protected species. Some of the monkeys may even have wound up on the menus at government banquets.

According to Shanghaiist, Laolu Lobster in downtown Zixi serves a variety of "exotic animals," and the owner says he buys dozens of monkeys a year. He told reporters that monkey meat can sell for 560 yuan (US$88) dollars per kilogram, and monkey brains can go as high as 1,600 yuan (US$257) per kilogram.

Zhenwei, another Zixi restaurant specializing in wild animals, has rhesus monkeys on the menu alongside other protected species, like hog badgers and bamboo rats. It's also a government-designated service provider of official banquets for the Fuzhou City government, according to Shanghai Daily.

The monkeys are killed by poachers in nearby mountains and sold at local farmers' markets, where they're picked up by restaurants and hotels and sold as high-end, exotic delicacies, Xinhua reports.

Jiangxi provincial forestry bureau head Yan Gangjun said a "severe crackdown" on poaching had been launched, and that all local farmers' markets, hotels, and restaurants would be inspected to prevent the trade in illegal wild animals.

Two poachers have since been arrested and four forestry officials were fired as part of the crackdown. Illegally catching or killing endangered species carries a 10-year minimum sentence in China.