In collaboration with local activists, we returned to the places where it's believed COVID-19 began: China’s live animal markets.
Our team determined that it was important to monitor the situation within the country's wet markets to find out if anything had really changed, as many media outlets repeatedly announced. We had an obligation to the more than half a million people who had already signed our petition to end these markets — places where humans come into contact with wild and farmed animals, creating breeding grounds for emerging zoonotic diseases. We had to return to these live animal markets to report the truth and we did so with the help of local activists.
This is not the first time our investigators have infiltrated these markets where living and dead, wild and domestic animals are sold for consumption. Between 2014 and 2019, we captured shocking images of animal cruelty in wet markets in China, Vietnam, and India.
The footage we were able to capture when we returned to China reveals that the threat to public health and safety continues. Despite the pandemic that has changed our lives as we know it, these sites (where COVID-19 is believed to have originated) are still open to the public and continue to trade and kill a wide range of animal species.
From the moment investigators arrived at the markets, we could see live and dead animals transported in vehicles that exposed them to dirt, smog, and contamination.
Due to the terrible conditions in which the animals are handled and transported, like these 12 ducks crammed into a single sack, chronic stress causes their immune systems to deteriorate. This makes them more susceptible to viruses, such as the one that caused the current pandemic.
Turtles, chickens, frogs, ducks, geese, pigeons, fish and more are traded and killed, bringing together species that would never live together in the wild. This can increase the risk of disease transmission.
The animals are killed while fully conscious and their blood soaks the stalls. Sanitary conditions are often poor and animal welfare and health safety controls, despite the danger, are still non-existent.
Animal Equality has launched a worldwide campaign and petition calling for the immediate closure of wet markets across the globe. Wet markets get their name in part from the blood, guts, scales and water that soak the stalls’ floors, remnants of animals brutally killed so customers can eat freshly killed meat.
In exclusive footage shot by Animal Equality at wet markets in China, Vietnam and India, animals such as deer, raccoons, crocodiles, and dogs are shown living in filthy conditions, suffering from dehydration, starvation and disease.
These markets are also a threat to public health and have been the source of documented disease outbreaks in the past, including SARS. Researchers also believe COVID-19 most likely originated from a wet market notorious for trading in wild animals in Wuhan, China.
It is because of the public health crises wet markets cause, as well as the intense suffering inflicted on farmed animals, that Animal Equality is urging the United Nations to demand a ban on all wet markets. Not only do these markets pose an immediate danger to humans, they are also intensely cruel to animals.
In markets across the world, live animals are traded and brutally slaughtered for customers who want to eat fresh meat.
These outdoor shops, called wet markets, get their name in part from the blood that soaks the stalls’ floors after live animals are killed once purchased.
Wild and farmed animals are mixed together in cramped cages and unsanitary enclosures, creating the perfect breeding ground for zoonotic diseases like COVID-19.
It is because of the public health crises these markets cause, as well as the intense suffering inflicted on farmed animals, that these wet markets need to be banned.
Animal Equality is an international organisation working with society, governments, and companies to end cruelty to farmed animals. Our investigations are the most important work we do and have helped millions of animals.