37 spotted seal pups rescued from China traffickers released

Animal rights groups have cheered the release of 37 spotted seal pups rescued from traffickers into the wild in northern China.

Humane Society International says the pups were discovered three months ago by police in a shed on a remote farm in the northern city of Dalian, many of them starving and dying. Eight suspects were arrested in the operation.

It says the pups had been taken from the wild by traffickers for the aquarium industry and for display in commercial venues like shops and restaurants. Another 29 pups could not be rescued and died, having been only about 2 weeks old when found and not yet weaned from their mothers.

Once hunted for their use in traditional Chinese medicine, spotted seals are now a protected species in China.