A Chinese influencer is under police investigation after a clip of her roasting and eating a great white shark went viral.
Footage of the vlogger, known by her online name Tizi, showed her feasting on the predatory fish, which police in the central city of Nanchong confirmed was a great white.
“It may look vicious, but its meat is truly very tender,” Tizi said while tearing off large chunks of the animal’s barbecued meat in a video posted in mid-July.
In the footage, since deleted, she is seen unwrapping a 2-metre-long fish she purchased and lying down next to it to show it is taller than her. The shark is then sliced in half, marinated and barbecued, while the head is cooked in a spicy broth.
Great white sharks are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – one step before being classed as endangered.
In China, they are listed as protected. Illegal possession can lead to a prison term of between five to 10 years.
The influencer faced immediate backlash to the clip which was later deleted. “It is flabbergasting that an internet celebrity can eat a protected animal in front of millions in broad daylight!” wrote one commentator.
“These uncultured attention-mongers will stoop very low to attract eyeballs!” another said.
One Weibo user said: “I’ve seen her videos before. They were outrageous. She also ate a crocodile and a golden giant salamander … It was extremely disturbing.”
"She literally eats anything to grab eyeballs. I was horrified when seeing her eat a crocodile tail once,” another added.
A police investigation is now underway involving the vlogger, who has almost 8 million followers on her channel.
She told local media she acquired the shark through “legal channels”, but the local agriculture bureau said on Monday her claim was “inconsistent with the facts” and that police were investigating.
Dried baby shark flesh is used as cat food in China and can be bought in many online stores.
Chinese state media have long waged war on viral binge-eating videos, known by the Korean slang mukbang, while livestreaming platforms have for years promised to shut down accounts promoting excess eating and food wastage.