Reading Time: 2 minutes Wet markets are unsanitary and inhumane (Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals)
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is being urged to ban live animal markets in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus is believed to have started in a wet market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Since then, it has spread to countries around the world, killing more than 24,000 at the time of writing.

Now animal rights charity PETA wants to see these markets shut – both in a bid to protect human health and prevent animal suffering, and has launched a petition urging the WHO to close them down.


The charity describes wet markets as ‘a market that sells live and dead animals – often of a variety of species – for human consumption, like those that exist in New York‘.

It adds: “Such markets, where stressed, injured, and sick animals are commonly caged in public areas, are perfect breeding grounds for diseases.

“Peter Li, an associate professor at the University of Houston–Downtown, states [in the video below] that at wet markets, ‘the cages are stacked one over another. Animals at the bottom are often soaked with all kinds of liquid. Animal excrement, pus, blood’.

“Such conditions allow viruses to spread from one animal to another as well as to humans who come into contact with them.”

Not just wild animals

PETA says the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan (where the coronavirus is thought to have first infected humans) has closed and country has banned the consumption and farming of ‘wild’ animals.

But it argues that this does not go far enough, as ‘diseases don’t just affect animals humans have labeled as wild’. It adds: “Many wet markets continue to operate throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and the U.S. There are more than 80 live-animal markets and slaughterhouses in New York City alone.

“Just as we don’t want to be infected with or die from COVID-19, other animals don’t want to suffer or be killed for food…No matter what species they are peddling, live-animal meat markets will continue to put the human population at risk as well as sentencing countless animals to a miserable death.”

You can find out more about PETA’s petition here

Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.