Zoonotic diseases are defined by Health Canada as pathogenic agents, “including bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses that can be passed from animals to humans.” The spread of the Coronavirus worldwide has brought attention to how and where these diseases proliferate.
The Animal Protection Party of Canada, our Party Leader Liz White and sister organization Animal Alliance of Canada, have joined the fight with over 200 other organizations as well as health experts around the world, to call on their governments to ban markets that sell and trade wildlife.
The open letter prepared by the Born Free Foundation can be found here.
In the city of Wuhan in Hubei province in China, the outbreak of the Corona virus is believed to have originated in a market selling wild animals and a nationwide temporary ban has been put in place. This is not the first time that a global health-epidemics have been linked to the consumption or exploitation of wildlife, other viruses such as SARS and Ebola are believed to have originated from contact with wild animals who are commonly traded in markets.
In Canada we do not see the type of wildlife “wet-markets” that happen in China and elsewhere around the world, what we do have is large exotic pet trade shows. These events will often feature exotic reptiles and birds from around the world, some of them wild-caught, where animals like African Grey parrots, snakes, spiders, iguanas and turtles are traded and sold. These animals are wildlife in their counties of origin, even though Canada classifies them as exotic pets. Removing these animals from their natural habitat is not only cruel, but is disruptive to ecosystems and wildlife populations.
Further, wildlife expos encourage the proliferation and trade of exotic species who require qualified care to keep them alive in an environment that can never mimic the natural habitat these animals deserve. As our colleagues over at Zoocheck assert, if animals do not die in transit they often perish because of inadequate conditions provided by well-meaning, but naive caregivers. This is part of the reason why Zoocheck calls the exotic pet trade “damaging, wasteful and cruel.”
Although there are laws and regulations at the municipal, provincial and federal level in Canada regarding restrictions or bans on ownership and importation of exotic species, there are many animals who fall through the cracks and enforcement of prohibitions are inadequate and inconsistent.
The risk to human health, the animals and the ecosystems in which these animals rightfully belong is too great.
We must push our governments to ban the global wildlife trade, to end the war on wildlife today
What can you do?
We need comprehensive policy at the federal level to ban the trade and ownership of exotic animals. We also need adequate enforcement measures to ensure that restrictions are met.
Please write to your federal MP and ask them to ban the global trade of wildlife (including exotic species) in the interest of animal and human health.
Animal Protection Party of Canada