Taipei’s Last Snake Meat Restaurant Closes Amid Public Concern for Wildlife Protection

Taipei’s last remaining snake meat restaurant has shut its doors for the last time amid a growing public awareness for wildlife protection and its importance, according to owner Kuo Yi-chien.

Located in the Taiwanese city’s Huaxi Street Night Market that was once colloquially dubbed “Snake Alley,” The Asia Snake Meat Store was loved by locals and tourists alike for its live slaughter of snakes before cooking hundreds of the reptiles daily. The store also gained a reputation for keeping a snake-catching orangutan captive — for some this was met with outrage and concern for the animal’s welfare, while others became accustomed to the entertaining nature of the creature’s exploitation.

The store had its debut evening in the 1960s, in a decade where wildlife protection and animal rights issues were far less prominent and openly discussed as they are today. In the decade, the store’s surrounding area was home to as many as eight snake meat shops that have all since lost novelty. The final store closure marks the end of an era as the nation moves toward a healthier food industry.

“At its peak, our shop sold some 1,500 bowls of snake soup a day, and slaughtered an average of 150 snakes a day,” Kuo Yi-chien told¬†Central News Agency according to The Straights Times. The closing was reportedly a ceremonial affair that included the shop’s founder Kuo Lai-kung symbolically sealing a pair of scissors that were used to slaughter the snakes.

The former snake meat shop is now set to become home to a hot pot restaurant.

Many businesses that use animals as entertainment are seeing sales drop as the public demand more ethical tourism and entertainment. Recently, Mexico City made waves for dolphins by banning all dolphinariums. Similarly, the Dominican Republic announced it no longer permits the sale of dolphins for entertainment.

Also, a singular SeaWorld location reported its visitors had fallen by more than half a million last year amid popular travel company Thomas Cook’s decision to end promotion of SeaWorld and other animal attractions. And late last month, travel giant TripAdvisor ceased selling tickets to shows promoting wild animals as entertainment.