Hong Kong animals lovers have expressed outrage after finding spray-painted turtles on sale at the Goldfish Market in Mong Kok.
While turtles with painted shells are available on Tung Choi Street, one covered in gold paint was recently rescued from a pond in Kowloon Park.
Dr Michelle Cheung, science manager at the ECO Education and Resources Centre, said the online sale of painted turtles has been popular on the mainland for a long time, but it's only recently that they have noticed them being sold in Hong Kong.
Cheung told RTHK's Janice Wong that even if only a turtle's shell is painted rather than the rest of its body, this still amounts to animal cruelty.
"Actually, their shells are living tissue. So the chemicals will slowly be absorbed by the turtle," Cheung said.
"If you paint a thick layer of paint on their shells, it will stop the absorption of UV and then the formation of vitamin D process will be affected. So it will eventually affect the growth of the turtle and it will die."
Cheung noted that some people even paint the heads and skin of turtles which can stop them from breathing properly.
She said she was worried that painted turtles will become more and more popular in Hong Kong and urged people not to buy any online from the mainland.