Parks in Shanghai are being overrun by alien species, says the
Shanghai municipal gardening administration bureau after inspecting
18 parks in the city.
For example, bird observers found Styan's squirrels in Gongqing
Forest Park and Zhongshan Park and red-eared sliders in Xuhui Park
and Kangjian Park.
Red-eared slider turtles, a species said to originate in Brazil,
are an internationally recognized ecological invader. They grow
quickly and survive easily, according to Professor Li Yingsen from
Shanghai Maritime University.
They also reproduce in large numbers and can snatch food from
native turtles thus threatening their existence.
These turtles were widely seen in a scenic spot in suburban
Shanghai where visitors are encouraged to buy the animals and free
them in the local river.
"Those superstitious people used to buy many turtles and other
animals and throw them in public waters, such as the Yanzhong
Park," said a turtle seller at Wanshang Flower and Birds' market in
"You see many turtles in the park when the weather is fine," the
turtle seller said.
Styan's squirrels, rarely seen in Shanghai, are occasionally now
seen in public parks, most of them former pets capable of
destroying trees, the report said.
Shanghai also is not home to azure-winged magpies, now found as
strays or outdoor pets in the city.
"Foreign animal invaders may not be a problem yet but foreign
plants do pose a more serious threat. You can find growth spree of
an American grass (Smooth Cordgrass) in Shanghai's only two natural
reservation areas and we are supposed to reserve the areas in their
natural state," Zhang Liquan from the Biodiversity Institute of
Fudan University told China Daily.
He suspected few of the pet animals would survive or be a
threat. There are other furry and slimy aliens in the city.
Rabbits from the Netherlands and Belgium, frogs from the United
States and parrots from South America can be found in Shanghai's
flower and bird markets.
These animals, often considered odd pets, are sold at lower
prices than cats or dogs. Red-eared slider turtles are sold at 10
yuan (US$1.3) a pair.
"The government has regulations on import of foreign animals,"
Zhang said, "but that doesn't mean all imported animals are
The report urged people who no longer want their pets - either
because they're tired of them or the pets got too large to handle -
not to abandon them in public.
(China Daily April 10, 2007)