West's anger at China's wildlife trade is hypocritical if 'ticking bomb' of NYC wet markets remain operational

Like the one in Wuhan, from where the virus is believed to have originated, New York City also has over 80 wet markets that sell live animals and slaughter them on site


                            West's anger at China's wildlife trade is hypocritical if 'ticking bomb' of NYC wet markets remain operational
(Getty Images)

Several wildlife conservationists have recently spoken up against “wildlife wet markets” amid the coronavirus outbreak. The voices from these animal rights activist groups, like the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Animal Wellness Action, have recently come to put pressure on China to close the wet markets, like the one in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated.

Many famous personalities and stars, including Lara Trump, comedian Ricky Gervais, Paul O’Grady, wildlife hosts Michaela Strachan and Philippa Forrester and reality star Pete Wicks, have come together to call for an immediate ban on these animal markets.

Gervais recently 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 world leaders to take a stand. “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 comment from the 58-year-old came after he saw pictures from different Indonesian markets in North Sulawesi taken by Sunday Mirror showing reptiles and bats being sold, and dogs being tortured to death.

However, the irony of West's anger against Asian countries like China and Indonesia for their ‘wet markets’ is that many wet markets, where animals are sold live and slaughtered onsite, function unimpeded in many cities in US and Europe, prime example being New York City’s wet markets that are still functioning.

The most populous city of the United States has over 80 wet markets that sell live animals to the public and slaughter them on-site, an investigative report by animal rights organization PETA, revealed.

According to the organization’s report, these markets sell and slaughter a variety of species including goats, sheep, chickens, guinea hens, rabbits, pigeons, muscovy ducks, and quail, for human consumption. It also revealed that for three years, public health and animal protection advocates have urged the NYC department of health to ban the city’s wet markets. However, no action has been taken yet as the officials are turning a blind eye to the well-documented health code violations.

“The NYC Department of Health claims that it has no regulatory authority over these markets and defers to NY State Department of Agriculture & Markets, but state health officials have told me that these wet markets are never inspected unless they receive numerous complaints,” Bonnie S. Klapper, a New York City-based attorney working on several cases involving animal agriculture, told Their Turn, a site that produces short videos documenting the animal rights movement.

Jill Carnegie, a co-organizer with Slaughter Free NYC, has called the NYC’s wet markets a “ticking bomb”. “If avian flu or another infectious disease is transmitted to just one human, it could spread very rapidly in New York City and beyond, as we have seen with COVID-19,” she said.

The worrying part about these markets is that most of them are close to schools, parks, and residential neighborhoods. Every day, thousands of animals are brought in from other states’ factory farms to the city and often denied food and water before their throats are slit open.

PETA has also started a petition to shut down the live-animal markets in New York City, which has already garnered more than 38,000 signatures.

“These markets are perfect breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases—like avian and swine flu, coronaviruses, and others—which can jump from various other species to humans, since stressed, injured, and sickly animals are commonly caged in public areas where feces, blood, and offal can contaminate buyers and sellers, who can track them into restaurants and homes,” the petition said.

“Closing off these sources of infectious diseases is an absolute necessity in order to help prevent future outbreaks. Please help protect animals and stop the next pandemic at its source by immediately shuttering New York City's live-animal markets. Thank you,” it added.

Meanwhile, Edie Falco has also called on New York City to ban all live animal markets and slaughterhouses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The 56-year-old 'Soprano' actress, who is also PETA representative, sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, comparing the city’s live poultry shops 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? That step could be pivotal in stopping other deadly viruses from ever jumping to humans,” the actress wrote.

“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,” she added in the letter.

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