Live Animal Markets Must Be Permanently Banned To Prevent Another Pandemic
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The coronavirus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people came from a live animal market in China. It could happen again.
Experts believe the worldwide coronavirus pandemic all started with an infected animal in a wildlife market in central Wuhan. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir1.
Scientists are still trying to decide if the novel coronavirus came from a bat, pangolin, or a snake, but they say it was passed from animal to human. It then quickly spread between humans, with millions of cases worldwide and hundreds of thousands dead.2
These live animal markets are full of animals of all species, kept in cages stacked on top of one another and sold as food. Leo Poon, Hong Kong University virologist, said, “These animals have their own viruses. These viruses can jump from one species to another species, then that species may become an amplifier, which increases the amount of virus in the wet market substantially.”3
Aside from the potential risk to humans, the wildlife trade claims the lives of billions of animals every year - including threatened and endangered species. Over the past decade, one million endangered pangolins were poached for their scales and meat. The Humane Society International states, “Live animals in the trade may be used as exotic pets, stock for game farms, zoo animals and biomedical research subjects.5
These live animal markets are temporarily closed, but they are set to reopen once the Chinese government believes that “the epidemic situation is lifted nationwide.”4 This has been the standard operating procedure during other outbreaks, but the world is calling for a permanent ban to prevent another pandemic.
The coronavirus outbreak has raised major concerns about the health risks associated with the hundreds of wildlife markets and of eating wild animals. China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), has also banned the practice of consuming and farming wild animals.3 This is a great step forward, but it may not be enough to stem the trade or prevent further disease spread. It is time to close all live animal markets for good.
We urge the NPC to immediately ban all wildlife trade. Sign now and demand immediate action.
More About This Issue
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary; Center for Disease Control (CDC), March 26, 2020
- COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE), Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, March 26, 2020
- China has banned eating wild animals after the coronavirus outbreak. Ending the trade will be hard. CNN, Ben Westcott and Shawn Deng, March 6, 2020
- China's wild animal trade should be banned for good if future viruses are to be stopped, activists warn, NBC, Holly Ellyatt, February 13 2020
- Our Work, Wildlife Trade, Humane Society International, retrieved March 26, 2020
To: the President of China and the National People’s Congress (NPC):
Please permanently close all wet markets, as they pose a serious threat to humans with the potential to spread deadly viruses. This worldwide pandemic proves that it is time to ban all wildlife trade.
It is the only choice to prevent any more viruses spreading from animals to humans. Many of the Chinese people are in support of closing the markets. In addition, you would be saving lives - not only humans but animals as well.
We commend you for banning the consumption and farming of wild animals, but urge you to immediately ban all wildlife trade.
Your swift action is appreciated.