Yao Ming partnered with WildAid to show people how their food habits were destroying shark populations around Asia.
Those who have the ability to contribute to positive change have a responsibility to. We’ve witnessed this with Manchester United football stars, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, who are allowing homeless individuals to stay in their hotel during the winter until renovation begins in the spring, and now with ex-NBA basketball star Yao Ming.
GoodNewsNetwork reports that Yao Ming, a basketball star who once led his Houston team to four championship tournaments in America, has been working for almost a decade to ban shark fin soup, a delicacy in his home country China.
In 2006 Ming joined a campaign to ban the soup, and nine years later his efforts have been hailed as crucial in transforming Chinese attitudes about the tradition.
In the television ad above, Ming is about to dine on soup. He hears that 70 million sharks are killed each year just for their fins, and looks up from his soup to see a wounded shark in an aquarium tank.
In disgust, he pushes his soup away. Other people in the restaurant who are watching him follow his lead and do the same.
And, that’s pretty much what has happened in real life.
The TV ad was so inspiring to Chinese businessman Jim Zhang, he turned into a full-time environmentalist and successfully lobbied the National People’s Congress (China’s Parliament) to ban ‘shark wing’ soup from state banquets. Shortly after, Hong Kong, Malaysia and India did the same.
The campaign became a focal point of Chinese social media, and led to five hotel groups, three shipping companies, and 24 airlines banning the transport or serving of the dish. Chinese television stations also gave $11.6 million in free airtime to WildAid’s PSAs.
By 2014, sales of shark fin soup had declined by 82%, reported WildAid. And, nearly two-thirds of Chinese people credited awareness campaigns with their decision to quite eating the soup.
Ironically, Yao was a member of the pro basketball team the Shanghai Sharks earlier on in his career. Thanks to his activism, millions of sharks have now been saved.
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