Edie Falco wants ban on NYC live animal markets to prevent Wuhan-like outbreak: 'It's a life-or-death issue'
Amid the deadly outbreak of coronavirus in the United States, which is believed by experts to have originated in the wet markets of Wuhan in China, actress Edie Falco has written to the Mayor of New York City to close its live animal markets and slaughterhouses.
The 'Sopranos' actress, who was born in Brooklyn and is also a PETA representative, sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 10, where she likened the live poultry shops of the city to the wet markets of Wuhan.
“As a New Yorker and an honorary PETA director, may I urge you to take whatever action is necessary to effect the immediate and permanent closure of all live-animal markets in our city?” Falco wrote according to New York Post. “That step could be pivotal in stopping other deadly viruses from ever jumping to humans.”
Along with the letter, Falco also included a short video showing footage from the factories and makeshift markets. The two-minute-long clip revealed chickens being crammed in cages and animals being butchered out in the open.
According to a map by animal-rights group Slaughter-Free NYC, there are at least 80 live poultry markets and slaughterhouses in and around the Big Apple. While many of them have been forced to shut down amid the statewide lockdown, many of them still remain operational, a PETA spokesperson said.
Falco wrote that some of these markets were located near schools and homes “where animal waste and animal blood can easily be picked up on shoes and tracked down sidewalks and into restaurants and homes."
“In some, animals are slaughtered on public streets and left to bleed out on the ground," she added.
Imploring the mayor, she concluded, "We need your decisive leadership on this life-or-death issue. You are uniquely positioned to help stop future pandemics and set an example for other leaders by closing the city’s live-animal markets immediately.”
The death toll from COVID-19 has already crossed 5,000 in New York with a spike in the number of deceased expected in the coming weeks.
A similar letter, signed by more than 200 wildlife groups was recently addressed to the World Health Organization (WHO) urging it to shut down "wet markets" across the globe to prevent such outbreaks in the future.
The letter also urged WHO to raise the alarm about the risks posed to human health by wildlife trade, since several other pandemics, including Ebola and the 2003 SARS, have also been linked to viruses spreading from animals to humans.
“Once COVID-19 is behind us, returning to business, as usual, cannot be an option. We need to dig deep and reset our fundamental relationship with the natural world, rethink our place in it and treat our planet and all its inhabitants with a great deal more respect, for its sake and for ours,” Dr Mark Jones, head of policy at Born Free, one of the charities involved, said.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, has also joined animal rights activist groups like the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Animal Wellness Action to put pressure on China to close the markets like the one in Wuhan.
“It is undeniable that the risks posed by wet markets are too great and the cruelty too severe to allow them to operate even one more day. I hope for the sake of humanity the country immediately discontinues this horrific and cruel tradition,” said Lara Trump.