Great Wall Grocery managers face charges over live animals

(Photo: Flickr/malias)

The Great Wall Grocery, an Asian supermarket on Gallows Road in Falls Church, caters to Northern Virginia's booming Asian community, stocking plenty of live items for customers who like to eat freshly-killed meat.

However, some of the live creatures in stock landed the managers of the store with felony charges for selling wildlife. For some customers, it's nothing new, but it came under scrutiny after an undercover operation.

"Actually, where we come from, this is normal...what you see in a fish market," Great Wall shopper Mimi Huynh said.

As first reported by the Washington Post, the operation, which took place last spring, found bullfrogs, eels and crayfish where fish are found today. Under the law that protects native species from poachers, that's illegal, even though none of these creatures is on the endangered list.

Charges brought against the managers of Great Wall have since been reduced to misdemeanors. They're expected to appear before a judge within days.

A man who appeared to be the store's manager says all of the animals came from farms and not the wild. Some regular shoppers see this as a case of cultural insensitivity or an outdated law.

"If it's not endangered, then what the heck," Alexandria resident Randy Phillips said. "I understand it's against the law, but maybe they need to change the law."

Others, though, believe the laws of Virginia should be observed regardless of cultural preferences.

"If the United States says it's against the law, I think we should respect it," Great Walls shopper Armida Dizon said.

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