The animals included rabbits, guinea pigs, cats and dogs, which had all been held in plastic or metal cages wrapped in cardboard boxes with breathing holes.
Their tragic deaths are likely to have been a result of a miscommunication in the supply chain of China’s thriving mass-breeding industry, it has been reported.
An investigation into the horror discovery has now been launched after only a couple hundred animals were saved.
Sister Hua, the founder of animal rescue group Utopia, told CBS News: “The station was cluttered with express boxes with thousands of animals that had already died, and the entire place reeks of rotting bodies.
“It was like a living hell.”
They had been left in the boxes without food or water for about a week before they were discovered at the Dongxing Logistics station in Henan’s Luohe city.
Sister Hua and 20 fellow animal rescue volunteers managed to rescue 200 rabbits and 50 dogs and cats from the scene.
She says that many were adopted on site and severely ill animals were taken to veterinary clinics to be cared for.
Sister Hua added it was likely the animals were bought online as pets but left stranded at the logistics depot because of a delayed collection.
It is thought the logistics company involved may have refused to sign off on a shipment violating transport laws as Chinese law prohibits the shipping of live animals in normal packaging.
“Miscommunication inside the shipping company and the inconsistency of the implementation of shipping regulations directly led to the tragedy,” Hua said. “Of course, both buyers and sellers bear the responsibility, too.”