'Stop trashing the planet': Ricky Gervais wants ban on wildlife wet markets amid coronavirus crisis

He was joined by Paul O’Grady and Pete Wicks, who also called for immediate closure of such markets


                            'Stop trashing the planet': Ricky Gervais wants ban on wildlife wet markets amid coronavirus crisis
(Getty Images)

Comedian Ricky Gervais has demanded an immediate ban on "wildlife wet markets" amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The statement from Gervais came after he saw the pictures of different Indonesian markets in North Sulawesi taken by Sunday Mirror showing reptiles and bats being sold, and dogs being tortured to death.

Speaking to The Mirror, the 58-year-old animal lover said, “For the sake of people and animals, wildlife trade and consumption has to end, now. We can’t carry on exploiting animals, eating wildlife and trashing the planet. The wildlife trade and markets have to close, otherwise, it will be a case of when, and not if, we have another global pandemic.”

He also urged the world leaders to take a stand as he said, “How bad does this have to get before you close down Indonesia’s extreme animal markets that pose the exact same risk as to the wildlife wet markets in Wuhan, China?”

The ‘After Life’ actor was joined by fellow star Paul O’Grady, wildlife hosts Michaela Strachan and Philippa Forrester and reality star Pete Wicks, who also demanded immediate shutdown of these markets.

“I was horrified. There were dogs on hooks that have been skinned, cages of live kittens. The cruelty is unbelievable,” O’Grady said after he saw a wet market in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

While 51-year-old Philippa said, “We’re asking impoverished people to make a huge cultural and economic shift. It isn’t easy for a man who has sold dogs to feed his family to just give up his income, however abhorrent we feel it is, so the support needs to come from the top.”

'Springwatch' host Strachan also voiced his opinion on the matter. “I have seen the appalling conditions in wild animal markets. It’s shockingly cruel, terrifyingly unhygienic, unethical and often illegal. The pain and terror animals go through makes me feel sick to my stomach. It’s like something from medieval times," he said.

“There is no culture in cruelty. It needs to be stopped,” Wicks added.

The voices from these personalities came days after wildlife conservationists from across the world joined hands to ensure that animal markets such as the one in China's Wuhan — where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated — are shut down. As per reports, over 200 wildlife groups signed an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) urging it to shut down the "wet markets" to prevent future pandemics.

“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.

Reports also stated that the US President’s daughter-in-law Lara 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 wet markets.

“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, the top reelection campaign official.

For more information and statistics on the coronavirus pandemic, click on the Newsbreak tracker here