A family in Wuhan has rushed to get tested for the coronavirus after spotting a whole dead bat in a pot of pork soup that they ordered from a Chinese restaurant.
A revolting image shows the small black mammal with its wings and body curled up together as it was floating on the surface of the half-eaten broth.
The customers immediately went to hospital after the shocking discovery over fears of catching the coronavirus. Their results came back negative, according to local media.
It comes as the source of the coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged in the central Chinese city last year, has been suggested to have come from wild animals, including bats and pangolins.
The Chinese family, known by their surname Chen, bought a pot of frozen pork soup from a restaurant near his home in Wuhan of Hubei province on July 10, reported local media.
The father had eaten some of the broth by himself but did not spot anything unusual, his son, Mr Chen, told Hubei Television.
They were shocked to find the whole dead bat in the leftover food as they were planning to eat it together on the third day after the purchase.
Mr Chen said: ‘I was going to reheat the soup and I scooped up something black. It was a small baby bat.
Mr Chen’s mother said that she initially thought the foreign object was a type of spice used for cooking the soup.
‘I checked it with chopsticks and I saw its wings and ears. It even had fur,’ the woman told reporters.
Footage released by the TV station shows the diner fiddling with the dead animal with a pair of chopsticks after it was scooped out of the food.
The disgusted diners went to the restaurant where they ordered the soup after their shocking discovery.
The eatery offered to refund the family but said that they had purchased the frozen product from a local soup manufacturer.
When approached by the local press, the owner of the food company denied that the bat got into the broth while they were making it.
He said: ‘Bats are normally active during the night, but we make our soup during the day. We seal the pot immediately when we finish and put it in the fridge. We never leave it outside.’
The business owner claimed that the black mammal had flown into the soup when the family took the food out of the fridge.
The local authorities launched an investigation into the matter after receiving a complaint from the diners.
But they were unable to identify when and how the baby bat got into the soup as it was found three days after the purchase, an official told the local station.
The family had also received nucleic acid tests after they found the bat. All of them tested negative for the coronavirus.
Although no one appeared to be responsible for the incident, the soup manufacturer said that they were willing to pay the family 2,000 yuan (£224.56) as compensation.
The news comes as scientists are still unravelling the source of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed at least 623,000 people worldwide.
Experts suggested that the virus had jumped onto humans from wild animals, such as bats or pangolins.