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Bitten by the passion bug

Updated: 2022-07-06 08:31 ( CHINA DAILY )
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Zheng Xiaoyang shares his knowledge and passion for insects and reptiles with his followers online. He is also engaged in nature education programs for youngsters. CHINA DAILY

Online influencer creates 300-plus insect and reptile vlogs, peppered with dollops of humor, to draw more than 2.4 million fans, report Yang Feiyue in Beijing and Hu Meidong in Fuzhou.

Zheng Xiaoyang reaches into a glass tank sitting in the back of his workstation, fumbles for a while and then whips out something that makes his visitors gasp in horror.

As a small, green snake wraps itself around his hand, the 29-year-old resident of Fuzhou, capital of East China's Fujian province, says: "It is not venomous and doesn't bite. You may touch it."

His reassuring words and the seemingly tamed creature often allay concerns, and encourage some to feel the snake's slimy skin.

Zheng's workstation looks somewhat like a mini zoo. Insect specimens take up cabinet space behind his desk while a rabbit nibbles a carrot under it. A gecko and a mantis, among others, sit cozy inside their plastic boxes lined up on the same desk.

Not far from the table, a miniature rainforest in a glass tank is home to a bunch of other creatures, including the Chinese flying frog, fireflies and stick bugs.

"There are at least 10,000 animals, including specimens, in this room," says Zheng, who shares an office space of 15 square meters with a few colleagues. He adds that he is lucky to have co-workers who don't mind his unusual hobby.

The man in a black cap and dark-rimmed glasses beams whenever he talks shop. His fetish for small creatures, particularly insects, has helped him launch a career as an online influencer in recent years.

Zheng's Douyin account, Xiaoyang's Insect World, has over 300 short videos and boasts more than 2.4 million fans.

Mixed with dollops of humor, the videos feature his field observations about both exotic and weird creatures, some with three eyes or twig-like limbs and others that are masters of camouflage.

He takes the trouble of demonstrating a toad's venom storage organ or how the elongate-oval water scorpion inhales with its butt underwater. No wonder his fans find the videos hilarious and riveting at the same time.

Zheng often starts his vlog with an intriguing question to keep his viewers engaged. The answer is revealed only at the end. He pays undivided attention to feedback and often responds with vivid experiments.

Once asked if a female mantis always devoured her partner, Zheng kept his mantises under long-term observation at his office and uploaded a video to demonstrate the rarity of cannibalism. "In natural settings, the female may prey on the male if she is starving or the male is being careless," he explains.

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The news conference of the 2022 China International Travel Mart, Kunming, Yunnan province. [Photo/Chinaculture.org]

The 2022 China International Travel Mart was launched in Kunming, Yunnan province today. The three-day event opened at the Kunming Dianchi Lake International Convention and Exhibition Centre, with a theme focusing on smart innovation and high-quality tourism industry aspects.

The news conference was held in the city on Thursday. Zhang Xilong, first class inspector of the Bureau of the International Communication and Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China and Lou Kewei, deputy-director of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Yunnan province presented the meeting along with academy and entrepreneur representatives.

The conference introduced the preparations and relevant activities of the mart, such as a forum on smart tourism and innovation, a symposium on international travel communication and cooperation in the framework of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and a workshop on the China-Laos railway’s contribution to building an Asian community with a shared future.

According to the news meeting, the 2022 travel mart covers about 80,000 square meters, with about 4,200 standard booths. 71 countries and regions attended the event both online and offline, and 31 domestic provinces, cities and autonomous regions and 261 independent exhibition teams.

Online services will be provided to the overseas buyers and sellers in the light of time zones. They could also have a face-to-face negotiation at the mart as well.

The mart also has diverse displays to show culture and tourism, physical education and tourism, as well as overseas tourism and museums.

The National Cultural Heritage Administration, the Palace Museum and museums from other provinces will attend the travel mart.

At the event, Yunnan province will have 2,000 standard booths in four separate sections; each will show culture tourism, healthy lifestyles, physical education tourism and culture tourism consumption.

The travel mart will also stick to the rules of pandemic prevention and control while having the activities go on smoothly.

The news conference of the 2022 China International Travel Mart, Kunming, Yunnan province. [Photo/Chinaculture.org]
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