TORONTO, July 27, 2020 /CNW/ - Award winning singers and animal advocates Jann Arden and Buffy Sainte-Marie are joining forces with the global charity World Animal Protection calling on the federal government to permanently ban the global wildlife trade.
In an open joint letter to the Prime Minister, the charity states this would help prevent future pandemics such as COVID-19. Arden and Sainte-Marie, along with a growing coalition of Canadian animal protection groups, zoonotic disease experts and ecologists, have signed the letter.
The wildlife trade is a multi-billion dollar industry and wildlife markets pose a serious risk to public health and animal welfare. It is acknowledged that a wildlife market in Wuhan, China played a significant role in the COVID-19 outbreak. The market reportedly sold many live and dead wild animals, including bats, snakes and hedgehogs. Scientific research suggests the coronavirus may have been transmitted from bats to pangolins to humans. These markets typically have a diverse range of animals, forced into crowded, unsanitary conditions and in close proximity to humans. Outbreaks related to wildlife markets aren't new and such environments can cause stress in animals which can make them more prone to contracting and shedding pathogens.
Arden says it's important to speak up for animals who don't have a voice.
"Like many Canadians, I care deeply about the welfare of animals. This global pandemic has shown us the devasting impact people's current treatment of animals can have. Ending the global wildlife trade will help prevent animal suffering and future pandemics."
Sainte-Marie has similar views and says, "Our relationship with animals affects us on so many levels, including our health and the environment, and, for me, matters of the heart. We need to recognize how important our wildlife is and do what we can to protect them."
Experts agree curbing the trade will be one of the most effective strategies. At least 70% of emerging zoonotic infectious diseases are believed to originate from wildlife.
Dr. Scott Weese, the Director of the Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses and professor at the University of Guelph, was one of the many experts to sign the letter. His background includes studying bacterial infections in animals and humans.
"Millions of bacteria and viruses remain undiscovered in wildlife and the more we encroach on their habitats and move them across the world, the greater the disease risk to people and animals. It's not a matter of 'if' we'll encounter a new disease. It's 'when' will the next one occur," says Dr. Weese.
This issue is not just unique to China, wildlife markets exist around the world. Millions of wild animals are captured, bred and traded for a variety of purposes including food, traditional medicine and as exotic pets. Animal suffering exists at every stage.
Canadians are becoming more aware of this. A new poll from Northstar Research Partners found Canadians are concerned about the impact of the global wildlife trade. Results include that 89% believe the wildlife trade threatens human health and can cause pandemics. And 70% support a ban on the commercial wildlife trade.
To date, more than 29,000 Canadians have signed a petition urging the Canadian government to address the likely reason for this outbreak.
World Animal Protection's Campaign Director Melissa Matlow says, "This is a global problem, requiring a global solution and support for this campaign is growing every week. Canadians are joining people around the world who are asking their governments to act and commit to end the wildlife trade. Now is the time to build our world back better and stop this problem at the source."
Globally, more than 396,000 people have signed similar petitions to G20 government leaders, asking them to get the root cause of the crisis on the agenda for the G20 Summit this November.
- See the full poll from NorthStar here.
About World Animal Protection
From our offices around the world, including China, Australia, Brazil, Kenya and Canada, we move the world to protect animals. Last year, we gave more than 3 billion animals better lives through our campaigns that focus on animals in the wild, animals in disasters, animals in communities and animals in farming. For more information visit www.worldanimalprotection.ca
SOURCE World Animal Protection
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