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A Hong Kong man was arrested Monday on a suspected animal cruelty charge after he was spotted killing snails by a fountain in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Police received reports on Aug. 4 that a man was pouring salt on the shelled creatures at a fountain outside East Ocean Center. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), he ignored passersby who told him to stop, telling them that snails are a hazard to the ecosystem.

Sprinkling salt on snails and slugs can kill them as the mineral saps them of moisture via osmosis. It is a known gardening trick for controlling populations of the mollusk, but is seen as inhumane due to the drawn out pain it causes to the creatures.

Read more: Snake in a Mailbox: Chinese cobra found in apartment block in Kennedy Town

Police arrested the 26-year-old man, a computer science doctoral student at Polytechnic University, in Tsim Sha Tsui Monday night. He was escorted back to his flat on Hillwood Road, where officers seized the clothes he was wearing during the incident.

Per police investigation, he is accused of pouring salt on three snails.

The man faces a fine of up to HK$200,000 and three years in prison if found guilty of animal cruelty.

This article, Hong Kong man who poured salt on snails arrested over suspected animal cruelty, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.

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