Shocking footage has emerged showing bats, cats, dogs and even pangolins are still being sold in notorious "wet markets" across Asia, despite evidence the coronavirus pandemic emerged from one.
The animals are being sold from cramped cages in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Laos, and Sri Lanka.
In April, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for the markets to be banned, asking governments to suspend the trade in live caught wild animals of mammal species for food or breeding purposes and close sections of food markets selling live caught wild animals of mammalian species as an emergency measure..
Investigators at a wet market in Sulawesi, Indonesia discovered bats and rats still being sold, alongside pigs, dogs, snakes, frogs, chickens and ducks, the Mirror reports.
Now, new footage from the Asian branch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shows horrific scenes in which helpless creatures are strung up and sold for their meat.
In Indonesia, reports The Mirror, tiny little monkeys are crammed into even smaller cages with barely enough space to slip their small hands through the bars.
In the same market, scores of bats hang from the bars of a minuscule cage smaller than one of the animal’s wingspans alone.
In Thailand a stressed cat can be seen turning in circles inside her tiny cage that is just big enough for her to stand up in.
In the same Thai market a badly deformed duck is seen crammed into a hopelessly inadequate cage.
One of its legs is twisted painfully across its back, the bright skin in stark contrast to its grubby white feathers streaked with a mysterious brown sludge.
And footage from Laos shows raw meat being handled without gloves at stalls yards away from filthy and bedraggled animals.
A wet market in Wuhan, China, where the Covid-19 outbreak began has long been blamed as a leading potential original source of the pandemic.
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Species sold at wet markets include bats, which are known to host coronaviruses, as well as suspected carriers of the viruses – pangolins and palm civets.
Back in April the WHO called for a ban on live animal markets like the ones in the clandestine footage.
The six-page document said: “WHO, OIE and UNEP call on national competent authorities to suspend the trade in live caught wild animals of mammalian species for food or breeding purposes and close sections of food markets selling live caught wild animals of mammalian species as an emergency measure.”
The guidance explained: “Significant problems can arise when these markets allow the sale and slaughter of live animals, especially wild animals, which cannot be properly assessed for potential risks – in areas open to the public.
“When wild animals are kept in cages or pens, slaughtered and dressed in open market areas, these areas become contaminated with body fluids, faeces and other waste, increasing the risk of transmission of pathogens to workers and customers and potentially resulting in spillover of pathogens to other animals in the market.
“Such environments provide the opportunity for animal viruses, including coronaviruses, to amplify themselves and transmit to new hosts, including humans.”
A spokesperson for PETA said: “These markets are breeding grounds for new zoonotic diseases including a deadly Covid-21, and given Covid-19 rates are sky-rocketing in the UK at the moment perhaps it could be a timely reminder as to how we got into this mess in the first place.
“Although the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus is thought to have first infected humans, has closed and that country has banned the consumption and farming of ‘wild’ animals (hopefully not only temporarily), it's important to note that diseases don't just affect animals humans have labelled as ‘wild’.
“Many wet markets continue to operate throughout Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and the US.
“No matter which species they're peddling, live-animal meat markets will continue to put the human population at risk, as well as sentencing countless animals to a miserable death.”
PETA Director Elisa Allen said: “A year after COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill and killed over 4 million humans, live-animal markets are still cesspools of filth and suffering that put the whole world at risk.
“PETA is calling on global leaders to shut down these markets before they create COVID-21.”
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