It's the live-animal industry that no one is talking about, and it's already been linked to one disease outbreak: SARS. A new PETA Asia undercover investigation warns tourists about a certain coffee that may be brewing the next pandemic.
Made from the beans of coffee berries that have been eaten and excreted by the Asian palm civet, or civet cat, this coffee, which is known as "kopi luwak" or "cat poop coffee", can be found in cafés and coffee gardens in Bali, Indonesia, and elsewhere. Unsuspecting British tourists visit such cafés, where they're duped into buying the coffee and seeing the normally solitary civet cats in a setting that hides their cruel treatment. Now, tourists can see what really happens to civet cats who are exploited for coffee.
Investigators visited civet cat farms in Bali and found unbearable conditions at every single one. They also went to live-animal markets, where potentially sick civet cats are sold, and saw how easily they could spread deadly diseases to other animals, including humans.
Watch the video to see for yourself how civet cats are suffering for this disgusting drink and find out what you can do to help them.
The Next Disease Outbreak Is Brewing
Kopi luwak is made by capturing civet cats in their natural habitat in Indonesia when they're about 6 months old or by buying them at live-animal markets; confining them to miserably small cages; feeding them an unhealthy, unnatural diet primarily of coffee berries; and then harvesting the coffee beans that they excrete in their faeces. The coffee is exported all over the world, even though following the SARS outbreak in China, researchers found that the SARS coronavirus had jumped from civet cats to humans. Scientists have also identified civet cats as a possible "intermediate host" for COVID-19, potentially allowing the virus to mutate and pass from bats to humans.
Civet cats who are "lucky" enough to survive beyond their usefulness to the kopi luwak industry can sometimes be sold to live-animal markets, putting them in direct contact with animals of other species and humans and providing the perfect opportunity for SARS or some other virus to mutate and jump from one host to another.
Cruelty in a Cup
In addition to the infection risk that civet cat farms and sellers pose, investigators found pervasive cruelty at every farm they visited. Civet cats were commonly confined to barren, filthy cages encrusted with faeces, dirt, and decomposing berries and often covered with cobwebs.
These nocturnal animals were kept mostly in outdoor cages in the sunlight with no dark, quiet spot to sleep in during the day, adding to their misery and poor health. Some panted constantly in the heat.
Many had painful open wounds for which they did not appear to receive any medical care, and they exhibited abnormal behaviour such as biting their own tails and repeatedly pacing back and forth, indicating severe psychological distress.
Investigators saw one civet cat who appeared to be blind but was still being used for kopi luwak production.
This isn't the first time this kind of cruelty has been discovered. In 2013, PETA exposed the appalling treatment of civet cats in Indonesia. It's been seven years, yet nothing has changed.