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Exposé: Suffering and Disease at Live-Animal Markets in Asia

In 2021 – over a year after the COVID-19 outbreak began – PETA Asia investigators visited live-animal markets in China, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. Customers can buy animals who are alive, dead, or slaughtered on site at these markets.

PETA Asia’s footage shows chickens, bats, monkeys, civet cats, and other animals, both dead and alive, on sale to be used for food, traditional medicine, or entertainment or to be exploited in other ways. Carcasses were displayed on blood-streaked countertops, and both live animals and raw flesh were handled without gloves. These markets are cesspools of filth.

Conditions were nearly identical to those documented in two previous PETA Asia investigations into these markets, with sick, terrified animals of uncertain origin packed closely together in stressful environments. These are perfect conditions for the spread of disease. Dead squirrels, civet cats, bats, birds, and rats were sold in open-air markets without any apparent hygiene protocols.

Civet cat sold for food at live animal market

An investigator was told that customers could purchase the flesh of bats and monkeys purportedly for medicinal purposes. 

Monkeys at live animal market

The Risks Are Real

The COVID-19 pandemic may have originated in a live-animal market in China, where live animals of a wide range of species are sold alongside dead animals and produce. Over 30 new human pathogens have been detected in the last three decades, 75% of which have originated in animals.

Dead dog at live animal market

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) is investigating live rabbits, bats, civet cats, and ferret-badgers as carriers of the virus that causes COVID-19, all are still offered for sale at wet markets. Deadly outbreaks of mad cow disease, avian flu, swine flu, SARS, HIV, and more have all stemmed from capturing animals in nature or farming them for food.

Animals next to each other at live animal market

The Horrors Must End

Just as we don’t want to be infected with the coronavirus or die of COVID-19, other animals don’t want to suffer or be killed for food. Most of us disliked being quarantined in our homes, yet billions of animals who are exploited for food spend their entire lives in small, cramped, filthy spaces, unable to turn around or stand up and suffering from respiratory diseases caused by living amid their own waste. Their only escape is when their throats are slit and their bodies dismembered, often while they’re still conscious.

Dead animal at live animal market

Since the start of the pandemic, PETA has pushed WHO to call for the closure of live-animal markets worldwide. Hundreds of thousands of PETA entity supporters have contacted WHO, and as a result, it urged countries to suspend the sale of live mammalian wild animals at food markets and called for governments to close sections of markets where these animals are kept or killed, saying that wild animals are a leading cause of emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19. The director-general of WHO will report on progress at the World Health Assembly 2024 and then every two years thereafter.

The call for restrictions on mammalian wild species is a good start, but it does nothing to stop frogs, snakes, chickens, and others from being sold, even though confining and killing them in filthy live-animal markets also contributes to the spread of disease. As long as live-animal markets remain open and any animal is sold, intelligent and sensitive beings will continue to suffer and humans will be at enormous risk.

Keep Up the Pressure

All live-animal markets must close, including the hundreds that operate right here in the UK.

Join PETA in urging WHO to call for an end to all deadly live-animal markets around the globe.

World Health Organization

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