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Zootopia sloth, foxes shoot to stardom
2016-03-18 11:58

A scene from Zootopia. [Photo/Mtime]

Hollywood buddy-cop comedy Zootopia continued its domination at the Chinese box office, earning more than 824 million yuan ($126.3 million) this week, and in social media, where Flash, the three-toed sloth, and a pair of foxes have captured the public's imagination.

Depicted as an inefficient government worker in Disney's latest animation hit, Flash shot to stardom in China's online communities. Netizens mimicked the sloth's speaking style and dubbed the character's lines in their own dialects.

Clips of Flash speaking at least nine different Chinese dialects can be found online, and animated GIFs, known as "stickers", featuring the character have been shared repeatedly across the instant messaging app WeChat.

"Flash the Sloth has stolen the spotlight from the film's two main characters!" wrote a user by the name LeleTiantian on the microblog Sina Weibo, Xinhua reported.

The animated film, which opened on March 4, also has turned two featured foxes into hot pets, driving searches on e-commerce platforms for the red fox, the con artist Nick Wilde in the film, and the fennec fox, the grumbly character Finnick.

Pet traders are reportedly peddling the nocturnal fennec foxes on some shopping sites, with prices ranging from 25,000 yuan ($3,847) to 40,000 yuan for one. One online trader said he sold a pair of the small North African desert foxes on Tuesday, according to a Huaxi Metropolis Daily report. The seller said he had permit to sell the vaccinated foxes known for their large ears and fluffy coats. Red foxes are easily found on the shopping sites and fetch a price of about 2,000 yuan.

Some animal protectionists have expressed concern about the trend. Li Hui, an expert at the Chengdu Changle Wildlife Breeding and Rescue Center, told China Daily that most of foxes found on the pet market were captured in the wild or were raised for their fur at the country's fox breeding farms, mainly in North China.

"Red foxes and silver foxes are among the most important furbearing animals harvested by the fur trade," Li said. "They are not commercially domesticated, often not vaccinated and can be dangerous."

A scene from Zootopia. [Photo/Mtime]

Fennec foxes are under the State's level-two protection and there are complicated processes to get a permit to import and keep these animals, according to a report on the Beijing News. "It's extremely difficult to get and raise the fox legally," Li said.

The main obstacle for pet lovers who want to raise such exotic house pets as foxes is that the country has neither an industry of domesticating these exotic pets, nor a management and supervision mode. "You'd better be careful of your purchase," he said.

Fans might be better off buying a stuffed, plush toy version instead. They also are easy to find on the e-commerce sites.

A scene from Zootopia. [Photo/Mtime]