Yao Ming Shuns Shark Fin Soup

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Houston Rockets star Yao Ming has had sharks close to his heart since he dominated the paint for the Shanghai Sharks. It may be no surprise then that last week he annouced he's sworn off shark fin soup, the Cantonese delicacy often served on holidays that includes, yes, endangered sharks or their fins among its ingredients. According to conservationists, each year as many as 100 million sharks lose their fins and other body parts to hunters before they are thrown back into the ocean (statistics on the shark fin trade are notoriously hard to come by). In 2003, Hong Kong imported 11,662 tons of dried shark fin, most of which were shipped to mainland China, estimated Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring group. Last year,following protests (and public shunnings by director Ang Lee and actor Tony Leung, among others) Hong Kong University stopped serving the (potentially mercury-heavy) delicacy—which goes for $5 a bowl and often higher—while Disney decided to give up its plans to serve shark fin soup at its Hong Kong theme park. Demand for the stuff remains high in Asia, but as the NBA's tallest player says in the new tv advert for WildAid, after using his hand to stop a bullet aimed at an endangered elephant: "When the buying stops, the killing can too." Nice defense, Ming. :: WildAid TV ad (mp4 video); : : Associated Press via China Daily. Interview with WildAid's Elizabeth Murdock at the : : SF Chronicle. For more on sharks and finning, visit : : WildAid, : : BBC and : : National Geographic.

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