COVID-19 Fear Triggers Mass Abandonment Of Hamsters In HK. A Teen Is Trying To Stop That

COVID-19 positive hamsters at a local pet shop prompted the government's move to cull thousands of the small animals.

Cover image via Silje Roseneng/Unsplash & HK01

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A secondary school student in Hong Kong created a Facebook group to rescue thousands of hamsters that were being abandoned by their owners

Last week, city authorities issued an order to put down some 2,000 hamsters from dozens of pet shops over fears of animal-to-human COVID-19 transmission.

The drastic move on 18 January came after a worker and a customer of a local pet shop were confirmed to be infected with the Delta variant. 11 hamsters from the same pet shop later tested positive for COVID-19.

Image via HK01
Image via HK01

Officials decided that the small animals — all imported — and any of the small pets bought after 22 December 2021 must be killed

The city's zero-Covid policy and lack of biosafety confinement facilities meant that to quarantine and treat the animals, would be difficult. The government also "strongly recommended" owners to surrender their pets, according to The Guardian.

This led to panicked hamster owners dumping their pets on the streets.

Based on South China Morning Post's report, as more hamsters were being abandoned on the day of the announcement, a teen — who is referred to as Sam at his request — saw the need to gather and share updates about the animals.

A hamster was found abandoned at a staircase of a building at a residential district in Hong Kong.

Image via The Standard

In three days, 11,000 people joined Sam's Facebook page, where members share the whereabouts of the homeless hamsters and discuss ways to help them

The page, which translates to "Rescue hamsters concern group", became abuzz with netizens asking what they can do to help.

Sam also appealed to other local Facebook groups in a bid to recruit as many volunteers as possible to help in his hamster rescue mission. Much to his surprise, dozens of strangers immediately stepped up and heeded Sam's request to help the city's hamsters in need.

With many of the city's pet shops shut, netizens even used the group to inform each other where they can get pet supplies like cages and food to help with the hamster adoption process.

Sam was so touched to see the wave of support from across Hong Kong.

At the same time, thousands of people have also signed a petition calling for the cull to be cancelled:

Image via

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