Breaking news: Fauci calls for closing down wildlife markets around the globe

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on April 3, 2020 with 12 Comments

The nation’s most authoritative voice on infectious diseases today sounded a stern warning about the dangers of the wildlife trade and its relationship to pandemic diseases like COVID-19.

In an interview with Fox News, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci called for the global community to pressure China and other nations to close down their wildlife markets, where live animals are sold and slaughtered for food.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said: “It just boggles my mind that how when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface that we don’t just shut [wildlife markets] down.”

“I don’t know what else has to happen to get us to appreciate that,” Dr. Fauci said. “I think there are certain countries in which this is very commonplace. I would like to see the rest of the world really lean with a lot of pressure on those countries that have that, because what we’re going through right now is a direct result of that.”

Wildlife markets have been implicated in the spread of several disease outbreaks in recent years, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), avian influenza or bird flu, Ebola and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The novel coronavirus pandemic was also traced to a wildlife market in Wuhan, China.

Yet, despite this strong evidence of the link between wildlife trade and disease, we have failed to see decisive permanent action from key nations on ending or even addressing the wildlife trade and its connections to pandemic risk.

While the latest coronavirus pandemic led China to announce a ban on wildlife consumption, it has not yet codified that ban into law (although one city, Shenzhen, and some jurisdictions in China have acted independently to ban the wildlife trade). To make matters worse, this month Chinese authorities even recommended a product that contains bear bile as a treatment for coronavirus patients, encouraging further human consumption of wildlife in a time when it needs to be shut down entirely. And at the G20 meeting last week, world leaders, including President Trump, missed a chance to address the issue of ending wildlife markets.

Besides China, wildlife markets are found in countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Africa. Other situations where animals, both wild and domestic, are kept in close confinement, can also spawn disease. The MERS virus, for instance, is said to have originated at a camel market in Saudi Arabia. And in the United States, the H1N1 swine flu originated in factory farms where animals are held in extreme confinement, spreading quickly from the animals to humans across the United States and the globe.

In the United States too, there are wildlife markets in parts of San Francisco, New York City and other areas, where live frogs and reptiles are sold. Our country is also responsible for a rampant trade in exotic pets. Wild-caught animals are imported from all over the world, and species are mixed and held in close confinement under poor conditions at wildlife dealers’ premises. Some are turned loose, others die prematurely due to improper care and many more die during transport and because of poor conditions at dealer warehouses. These animals have also transmitted diseases, like the monkeypox outbreak in the United States in 2003.

The HSUS is now fighting in court to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release critical data tracking wildlife imports and exports so the public has access to this information that can impact both animal and human health.

The ongoing coronavirus crisis, which could result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions of other people the world over, has taught us many important lessons about what we should and shouldn’t be doing in order to keep ourselves healthy. One of the most important is the link between wildlife markets, which cause so much animal suffering, and the public health risks of a pandemic. We couldn’t agree more with Dr. Fauci when he calls on countries to “shut down those things right away.”

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Categories
Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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12 Comments

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  1. Marie says:

    The H1N1 swine flu epidemic originated in pigs in central Mexico in 2009

  2. christine woluewich says:

    the world had to co
    e together to stop these cruel & unsanitary were markets – their tradition had to change for the welfare of our Globe & horrible cruelty to animals

  3. Heindryckx Nicole says:

    To whom it may concern, First of all, would like to emphasise that trading of wildlife, and especially endangered wildlife animals must STOP right now. More inspections and more customs control should be financed to save certain species for all generations coming on. I have 4 granddaughters around the age of 20. I hope they will have some children as well. However, when we keep on murdering each and every wildlife animal as we please, I rather not have great-grandchildren. Wildlife should not be kept in zoos only. We live in freedom, let them their freedom as well. I beg you, please ban worldwide, the trade of wildlife animals and close down ALL markets selling all kind of life animals on the whole planet. I do like a small piece of meat as well. But I never would be a living chicken on a market and kill it myself, or have it killed on the market… NO, NO, NO: this is so wrong…

  4. Susan Estrella says:

    Wildlife markets are just the tip of the iceberg. We humans must reject ALL use of any and all animals for use for food, clothing, make-up, entertainment, experimentation and so on. Until we extend our circle of compassion to ALL living beings, we will not solve the problems we humans are creating for ourselves including most (if not all) of our worst diseases!!!

  5. carre says:

    keeping an animal in confinement, in filth, is unnatural and cruel. God didn’t give these amazing beings to your dumbasses to lock away, torture and eat, he put them on this earth for all of us to be able to revel in their beauty and grace. WAKE UP!! Your stupidity is affecting everyone..

  6. Lesley Partridge says:

    Please stop Chinese cruel practices on animals . For goodness sake haven’t we all learned our lesson.

  7. Antonet says:

    Pls do not KILL the ANIMAL.
    🛑 🛑 PLEASE 🛑 🛑 🛑 PLEASE 🛑 🛑 🛑 PLEASE 🛑 🛑 🛑 PLEASE 🛑 🛑 🛑 PLEASE 🛑
    CAN YOU STOP 🛑 IT PLEASE.
    THANX

  8. Jenifer says:

    The way these animals suffer is unbelievable also. You can see chickens or ducks in the cage of the picture and they cannot even lift there head above there body. It would be like you standing half bent over for your entire life in a tiny cages. Then you have the dogs with 10 dogs a create that one is meant for one dog only. The poor dogs are laying on top of each other with the heads sticking out trying to get fresh air to breathe. The world relationship with China needs to change and this country (USA) should never had put profits over having the necessary of medical supplies and medications over to other countries. In fact 90% of the worlds ( and our) medication in this country is made in India and China. Our we stocking up when India shuts down and possibly China again. No of course not. People might panic of we said that. Well they will panic more when there is no heart medications ect and people start dying from the total incompetence of this admistration. In fact because of the strict limits on Opiates due to the DNA cutting 70% of the opiate supplies in the past 3 years we are running out of opiates needed to put these people on ventilators. Soon we will be out of medications at the pharmacy.

  9. Rosha Kasravi says:

    I Agree – Shut these places of torture – stop the a imal suffer world wide.
    To ignore the elephant in the room is to live backwards so Desensitized to suffers . in front of persons face while screams of animals dying being hacked to death will surely ecucate to human suffering. And Pandemic
    .Just how dumb are humans to tore animals.
    . This Fact alone is the root of much evil.

    SHUT AN KM MAL test animals & set the negativetrsted free in their home.

    Shut all animal MARKETS ASAP !

  10. Elizabeth Meadows says:

    So much suffering for the animals. Cultural or not the cruelty is boundless. We must stop these markets in China and everywhere and wildlife trade period. This pandemic is a surreal nightmare. Just think what the next virus might be. Act now.

  11. Norma Ray says:

    It is my opinion that all animal markets be closed forever. Especially live animals . Imagine the horror of waiting in a small cage to be slaughtered. No food , no water, barely able to move.
    Breeders should be outlawed completely. No one regulated where the sold animals go. Some are born into a horrible life. They don’t need our assistance to breed on their own.Who gives humans the right to profit from their suffering. Why should there be such suffering in this age? It’s not logical. Give Dog Fighters a life sentence for murder. They are no better that serial killers and they have no respect for living things. Bait animals Captured adopted or stolen and enslaved to be mauled to death just to train other Dogs to fight. It’s nothing but a vicious murder ring.
    Lincoln freed the slaves. Lets free the animals as well and end the continuing circle that has lagged on for centuries. We are past that.

  12. Robin says:

    In addition to shutting down the wildlife wet markets, the bear bile farms need to be closed down. Bear bile extraction is used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is proven that it does not cure anything. The horrible industry has abused millions of beautiful moon bears for centuries. “Animals Asia” has done tremendous work along with HSUS International to address releasing many of these bears to sanctuary and providing other means of making a living for these farmers. Education is key to ending these lucrative industries. Most of the international community knows nothing about wet markets or the bear bile farms. Huge educational campaigns are needed immediately to make people aware and have key steps addressing ways to shut them down. People are searching for answers to stop this virus and have the time now to listen. We must act urgently and effectively to educate and motivate people to take action.

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