6 min read

Warehouse Packed With Frogs Has The Saddest Backstory

There are MILLIONS of them 😱

From above, the pools look like they’re filled with lime green water — until the camera zooms in.

Thousands of frogs are leaping and swimming around in makeshift pools, stepping across one another in a crowd of millions. There’s barely any room for the stressed animals to move.

This is a frog farm in China, where the amphibians are raised and then killed for food. A clip showing the shockingly cramped conditions has recently gone viral in efforts to show the public just where the “delicacy” of frog legs really comes from.

American bullfrogs are the most commonly farmed frog species worldwide, says Giovana Vieira, animal welfare specialist and veterinarian for The Humane League, the farm animal protection group that shared the video online. The practice of frog farming began in America during the late 19th century, Vieira notes, and it has since become a booming industry in some Asian and South American countries due to high demand in American and European markets.

This means that billions of frogs are living this way to keep up with the demand for them on the dinner table.

frog farming bullfrog china
An American bullfrog in the wild | Shutterstock

“China, Taiwan, Ecuador and Mexico are the leading exporters for farmed frogs,” Vieira told The Dodo. “While frog farming plays an increasing role in meeting the global demand for frogs' legs, in several countries millions of frogs are still taken from the wild to satisfy international demand.”

While some farms create semi-natural, swamp-like areas for the frogs to live in, most commercial frog operations keep the frogs in specific tanks depending on their life stage. Workers collect eggs from breeding tanks, then move them into hatcheries, nursery tanks and then the final, large pools filled with adults.

frog farm china
Twitter/John Oberg

With so many frogs, there’s bound to be issues due to lack of space and food — just like the conditions seen in traditional factory farms. The animals may fight, spread sickness and even eat one another, Vieira said.

“These systems usually have major problems with predation, cannibalism, diseases, limited food sources, water quality/sanitation and fluctuating temperatures,” Vieira said.

frog farm china
Twitter/John Oberg

Once the frogs grow large enough to be killed for food, they endure a grueling prep period. They are starved for 24 hours before harvest, and in some farms, workers funnel ice water into the tanks to make the frogs so cold that they’re unable to swim or move.

“[This will] anesthetize the frogs to allow for better handling,” Vieira explained.

Many animal advocates are comparing the frogs’ cruel treatment to that of chickens on factory farms, who also face extremely cramped conditions, little to no ventilation and rampant illnesses.

bullfrog farm china
Shutterstock

While the footage from this frog farm is certainly harrowing, advocates hope sharing the footage can dissuade people from purchasing frog products, and encourage them to speak out about the problems these unseen animals face.

“While intensive animal farming may seem like some far-off problem in a land far away, your food choices here and now are what can prevent this cruel practice from continuing,” John Oberg, director of new media for The Humane League, wrote in a recent op-ed about these frog farms. “Let others know that the cruelty going on behind the closed doors of factory farms isn’t something that you’re comfortable with. Animals are depending on it.”