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“疯狂的亚洲富人”:为什么要给一条鱼做整形手术

更新时间:2018-3-29 21:49:55 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Cosmetic Surgery for a Pet Fish? In Asia, This One Is King of the Tank
“疯狂的亚洲富人”:为什么要给一条鱼做整形手术

Eugene Ng jabbed a pudgy finger against the side of the glass tank, like a predator singling out his unlucky target.

尤金·黄(Eugene Ng)用他短粗的手指戳了戳玻璃缸的侧面,像一个捕食者在挑出倒霉的猎物。

“That fish’s eye is looking a little droopy,” said Mr. Ng, pointing to a fish with large metallic gold scales swimming happily among its companions.

“那条鱼的眼睛看起来有点耷拉下来,”尤金·黄说着,指向了一条全身披着大片亮闪闪的金色鳞片的鱼,此刻它正在同伴中间欢快地游着。

Minutes later, the fish was knocked out and getting an eyelift, a procedure that has become standard practice in Mr. Ng’s job as one of the premier cosmetic surgeons for Asian arowana fish here in Singapore. Using a pair of forceps, Mr. Ng — known to his clients as Dr. Ark, after the pet fish store that he also runs — worked quickly, loosening the tissue behind the fish’s eye and pushing the eyeball up into the socket.

几分钟后,这条鱼被打晕了,做了个眼睛提拉术。作为新加坡首屈一指的亚洲龙鱼整形医生,这种手术在尤金·黄的工作中已经是家常便饭。尤金·黄——客户会称他为“方舟大夫”,得名于他经营的那家宠物鱼商店——拿着手术钳迅速地工作,放松了鱼眼下方的组织,把眼球往眼窝上方推了进去。

“I know some people think it’s cruel to the fish,” said Mr. Ng, lifting his sedated patient with one hand to show off its newly straightened eye. “But really I’m doing it a favor. Because now the fish looks better and its owner will love it even more.”

“我知道有些人认为这对鱼来说有些残忍,”他一边说,一边举起被打了镇静剂的病人,展示它刚刚被矫正的眼睛。“但我实际上是在帮它。因为这条鱼现在更好看了,它的主人会更爱它。”

The idea of cosmetic surgery for a fish may sound extreme. But the Asian arowana is not your average pet store fish. Known as the long yu, or “dragon fish” in Chinese, it reigns as one of the world’s most expensive aquarium fish, selling for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

为一条鱼做整形手术,这个想法听起来可能有些极端,但亚洲龙鱼并不是你在商店里随意买的一条宠物鱼。它有着世界上最贵观赏鱼的称号,价格在几百美元至上万美元不等。

“In Singapore, if you have an arowana, that means you have status,” said Kenny Lim, a local hobbyist who has invested an estimated $600,000 over eight years into building up his aquatic menagerie, which includes 13 arowana and more than 100 stingrays. “It’s a sign of wealth.”

“在新加坡,如果你有一条龙鱼,就意味着你有地位,”肯尼·林(Kenny Lim)说。他是新加坡当地一名龙鱼爱好者,在八年的时间内曾投入将近60万美元打造自己的生态水族箱,养了13条龙鱼和100多条魔鬼鱼。“这是财富的象征。”

While prices of the fish saw a boom and a bit of a bust earlier this decade, the arowana remains a popular luxury accessory across Asia. Wealthy Chinese businessmen in particular prize the fish — with its large glimmering scales, sage-like whiskers and aggressive personality — for its resemblance to the mythical Chinese dragon.

龙鱼的价格一度暴涨,这个十年的早些时候也曾遭遇过一些打击,但在亚洲始终是一个流行的奢侈配件。富裕的中国商人尤其珍视龙鱼,因为它长得像中国神话里的龙——有着大片闪闪发光的鳞片、智者般的胡须,还有好斗的性格。

Adding to the allure are the often-repeated tales of arowana that sacrifice their lives by jumping out of tanks to warn owners about a bad business investment or other potential dangers.

而且常有人说龙鱼会牺牲自己跳出鱼缸,来警告主人一桩不良的商业投资或其他潜在危险。这个传说更是为它平添了魅力。

For those reasons, aficionados call the arowana the king of the fish, emperor of the tank, a dragon among mere mortals.

出于这些原因,龙鱼的狂热爱好者们把它称为鱼中之王、缸中的皇帝,是降临凡间的一条龙。

“For Chinese, keeping fish is about bringing good luck and wealth, and the Asian arowana are especially lucky,” said Kenny Yap, the executive chairman of Qian Hu Fish, one of the top arowana breeders in Singapore.

“对中国人来说,养鱼是为了能带来好运和财富,而亚洲龙鱼尤其能带来好运,”新加坡顶级龙鱼养殖者之一——仟湖渔业集团的执行主席叶金利(Kenny Yap)说。

“In the West, dragons are evil monsters,” added Mr. Yap, or Kenny the Fish, as he prefers to be called. “But in Chinese culture, dragons are divine.”

“在西方,龙是邪恶的怪兽,”喜欢别人管他叫“金利鱼”(Kenny the Fish)的叶金利说。“但是在中华文化中,龙是神圣的。”

Perhaps nowhere is the obsession more apparent than here in this tropical city-state, a hub of the global ornamental fish trade and home to a thriving network of breeders and hobbyists dedicated to the Asian arowana (not to be confused with the silver arowana, its South American cousin).

或许没有哪里的迷恋能比这个热带城邦更加明显。这里是全球观赏鱼贸易中心,是繁荣的养殖者网络和一心投身亚洲龙鱼的爱好者的家园(别与银龙鱼混淆,那是龙鱼的南美表亲)。

The fish has become so deeply ingrained as a status symbol that it was even featured in the latest installment of Kevin Kwan’s “Crazy Rich Asians,” a popular series of novels about the lives of Singapore’s elite, in the form of a $250,000 super red arowana named Valentino.

龙鱼作为地位象征的形象如此根深蒂固,以至于在关凯文(Kevin Kwan)讲述新加坡精英人士生活的畅销系列小说《疯狂的亚洲富人》(Crazy Rich Asians)的最新一部中都有呈现,书中有一条名叫瓦伦迪诺(Valentino)的超级红龙鱼价值25万美元。

“Singaporeans are crazy about the fish,” said Emily Voigt, the author of “The Dragon Behind the Glass,” a rollicking account of her transcontinental journey into the murky world of the arowana.

“新加坡人对鱼非常狂热,”《玻璃缸里的龙》的作者艾米丽·福格特(Emily Voigt)说,该书生动地描述了她走进龙鱼黑暗世界的洲际旅行。

At one point, Ms. Voigt said, the global craze for the fish reached such a frenzy that even in Singapore, where the crime rate is so low that a stolen delivery parcel makes headlines, there were four arowana heists in one week. During one of the robberies, the thief punched an elderly woman as he ran away with her fish in a sloshing bucket.

福格特表示,曾经有一段时间,全球对这种鱼的狂热达到了疯狂的地步,甚至在新加坡这个犯罪率极低、连一个包裹被盗都能成为头条新闻的地方,一周内发生了四起龙鱼抢劫案。在其中一次抢劫中,劫犯打倒了一名老妇人,抓起放着龙鱼的水桶仓皇逃走。

In a separate episode, a Singaporean man was sentenced to three years in prison and 12 strokes of the cane for trying to steal arowana from a shop.

在另一起案件中,一名新加坡男子因试图从一家商店里偷走龙鱼而被判3年徒刑和鞭刑12下。

“You think of pet fish as being an innocent thing,” Ms. Voigt said. “But I didn’t expect to find myself confronting this dark underbelly.”

“你认为宠物鱼是无辜的,”福格特说。“但我没想到自己会见到这样的阴暗面。”

The prominence of the Asian arowana is a sharp reversal in fortune for a fish that half a century ago was considered by locals in its natural swamp habitat of Borneo and Indonesia to be a common food fish — and a rather bony and tasteless one at that.

亚洲龙鱼如今的显赫地位源于它命运的一次突然逆转。半个世纪前,在婆罗洲和印度尼西亚的龙鱼天然沼泽栖息地,当地人把它视为一种常见的食用鱼,而且是一种肉少、味道寡淡的鱼。

Experts say the turning point came in 1975, when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, signed by 183 countries, banned the fish from international trade. By classifying it as a rare species, some say, the treaty elevated its status as a luxury item.

专家们表示,龙鱼命运的转折点出现在1975年。当年,在183个国家签署的《濒危野生动植物种国际贸易公约》(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)中,龙鱼被列入国际贸易禁运名单。有人说,该公约将龙鱼归入稀有物种,从而提高了它的地位,让它成了一种奢侈品。

After the ban, a booming black market for arowana emerged. Smuggled arowana were turning up in countries around Asia and later in the United States, where it is still banned. The overwhelming demand had a devastating effect on the wild population of arowana. So starting in the late 1980s, restrictions were loosened to allow trade of farm-bred arowana whose parents were also born in captivity.

禁令颁布后,龙鱼的黑市交易开始兴旺起来。走私的龙鱼出现在亚洲一些国家和美国,龙鱼在美国依然被禁。巨大的需求对野生龙鱼的数量产生了毁灭性影响。因此,从1980年代末开始,限制措施放宽了,其父母也在养殖环境中出生的人工养殖龙鱼被允许交易。

While the wild arowana never recovered, trade in captive-bred arowana flourished, reaching a peak in the 2000s as buyers in mainland China jumped into the game.

虽然野生龙鱼的数量再也未能恢复,但人工养殖龙鱼的贸易蓬勃发展,在本世纪的头十年里,由于中国大陆买家的加入而达到顶峰。

Breeders used DNA technology to pinpoint characteristics in a bid to create a “perfect” fish: straight feelers, bright eyes, large and round fins and tails and shimmering red scales. Neon pink tanning lights became a common feature in tanks to enhance the fish’s reddish hue.

育种者利用DNA技术来确定特征,以创造“完美”的龙鱼:笔直的触角、明亮的眼睛、又大又圆的鳍和尾巴,以及闪闪发光的红鳞。粉色霓虹灯成了水箱里的常见装置,用来增强鱼鳞的泛红色调。

“It’s like a beauty pageant,” said Alex Chang, the head of research and development at Qian Hu Fish, who was caught several years ago attempting to smuggle two suitcases full of endangered fish worth over $180,000 into Australia. “The fish cannot be fat. It must look strong and have personality. It must swim confidently and be firm, stern and fierce. It cannot be timid.”

“就像选美大赛,”仟湖养鱼场的研发主管亚历克斯·张(Alex Chang)说。几年前,他曾被查获试图往澳大利亚走私两箱价值逾18万美元的濒危鱼类。“这种鱼不能胖。必须看起来强壮、有个性。游起来必须充满自信、坚定、执着、勇猛。不能胆小。”

But around 2012, the price of arowana crashed as breeding farms flooded the market. While prices have somewhat bounced back in recent years, big farms like Qian Hu have begun breeding other species.

但在2012年左右,随着众多养鱼场涌入市场,龙鱼价格暴跌。尽管近年来其价格有所反弹,但仟湖等大型养鱼场已经开始培育其他物种。

Despite the sharp dip in prices, the arowana remains an aspirational luxury good and a point of obsession for many Singaporeans.

尽管价格大幅下跌,但对很多新加坡人来说,龙鱼依然是一种令人向往和痴迷的奢侈品。

As a young boy growing up in Singapore, Nicholas Chia always dreamed about having an arowana. Then, last year, he finally bought his first one. Since then, he has acquired five more. He keeps his prized fish in six large tanks that take up a third of his living room.

尼古拉斯·贾(Nicholas Chia)是在新加坡长大的,他一直梦想拥有一条龙鱼。去年,他终于买了第一条。从那以后,他又买了五条。他把这些宝贵的鱼放在六个大水箱里,它们占了他客厅面积的三分之一。

“Sometimes my wife complains that I neglect the children because of the fish,” said Mr. Chia, a 30-year-old software entrepreneur. “To a certain extent, yes, I guess that’s true.”

“妻子有时抱怨说,我为了这些鱼忽视了孩子们,”30岁的软件创业者尼古拉斯·贾说。“是的,在某种程度上,我觉得还真是这样。”

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