13th April 2021 – Today, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for a halt to the sale of live wild mammals in food markets to prevent the emergence of new diseases. The WHO said that while traditional markets play a central role in providing food and livelihoods for large populations, banning the sale of live wild mammals could protect the health of market workers and shoppers alike.
Kieran Harkin, Head of Wild Animals in Trade at FOUR PAWS:“After years of campaigning for a ban on the commercial trade of wildlife, FOUR PAWS sees the recent announcement of the WHO as a milestone for animal welfare and an acknowledgment of the efforts from animal welfare groups in their continuous calls for a ban of live animal markets in preventing the next pandemic. Live animal markets are unhygienic, unregulated and provide the optimal conditions for zoonotic diseases to spread. Animals of different species, such as bats, pangolins, snakes, dogs, and cats, are usually crammed into confined cages, and slaughtered for human consumption. The conditions the animals are transported to the markets and then kept before being slaughtered lead to weakened immune systems increasing the likelihood of illness and pathogen transfer between species and humans. Although FOUR PAWS welcomes and supports the WHO’s demand, we would like to highlight that live animal markets are not the only source of dangerous zoonotic diseases. Pigs and chickens are treated equally dreadfully in factory farms and have succumbed to swine and bird flu worldwide. Millions of minks, vegetating on fur farms in Europe, have been infected with COVID-19 and reinfected humans with mutations of the virus. To prevent zoonotic pandemics in the future, FOUR PAWS asks that not only the sale of live wild animals on food markets should be banned but all live animals, including dogs and cats. Furthermore, fur farms and factory farming must be put to a stop and the reduction of meat consumption must be promoted. This will also ensure that wild animals' habitats are not further destroyed, and that the climate crisis is no longer fueled. If we let animals suffer like this, we humans will suffer the consequences of zoonotic diseases.”