Listen Up! Animal Wellness Episode #8: Corona Virus

Updates on the Corona Virus and The Bear Protection Act

The human death toll for the coronavirus has eclipsed 1,600, more than double the number of people who died as a consequence of the SARS virus in 2003. The common thread between these public-health emergencies was China’s wet markets, which have proved to be a dangerous mixing bowl for viruses that cross from non-humans to humans. “Wet markets” are open-air trading posts where wild and domesticated animals are sold for slaughter and human consumption, and, in some cases, they are incubators for zoonotic diseases. The coronavirus became a global health concern once it began to spread between humans, prompting quarantines affecting tens of millions in Wuhan and surrounding areas and putting people and governments across the planet on high alert.

In today’s podcast, host Joseph Grove talks with Wayne Pacelle and Marty Irby about the public-health threats spawned by these live-animal markets.  The risk and reward of these animal bazaars could not be more asymmetrical. On one hand, there are profits for a few hundred wet market operators, farmers who raise exotic animals, and wildlife traffickers who snare, trap and capture the creatures destined for the markets. On the other hand, there is a large-scale loss of life, the disruption of global transportation, and untold reverberations in the transnational economy because of the movement of the disease. There is a revolt among Chinese citizens about these markets, with so many people in China calling for their shut-down.

The appetite for wildlife is not just a threat to us, but of course to the animal victims themselves. They die in inhumanely maintained “farms” or from live-capture from the wild or in transport or at the markets themselves where they are slaughtered. 

In today’s episode, Wayne and Marty also discussed wildlife trafficking for other purposes — in this case, for products used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They discuss the Bear Protection Act, newly introduced bipartisan legislation that seeks to stop the killing of bears for their gallbladders. Introduced by Senators John Kennedy, R-La., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., as S. 3196 and also by Reps, Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Anne Kuster, D-N.H., and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa. as H.R. 2264, this legislation is designed to forbid trade in the internal organs of bears for their purported medicinal purposes. We urge listeners to contact their federally elected officials at 202-225-3121 and urge lawmakers to cosponsor these bills.

The Animal Wellness Podcast is a weekly segment that not only delivers timely information but offers insights and analysis you won’t hear anywhere else. We’ll offer in-depth discussions of local, state, or federal policy and elections, and the effects of laws and regulations on corporations. We hope you’ll listen today, and also check out Episode 7: Fixing the Lethal Abuses in Horseracing, Episode 6: The Role of the USDA Checkoff Problems in Harming Animals and Family Farming in the U.S.  Episode 5: Fighting a Diabolical Plan to Round Up Tens of Thousands of Wild Horses. Episode 4: Big Cats: Endangered in the Wild and in Danger as Captives in the U.S., Episode 3: Michael Vick and the Continuing Battle Over Animal Fighting, about the renewed attention on convicted dog-fighter and NFL player Michael Vick and implementation of the latest animal fighting law, Episode 2: Shark finning, horseracing and the PACT Act that includes a layered discussion of how the committee process works and why it’s so difficult to even get common-sense measures into law. If you missed our first episode, you can listen here: Episode 1: 2019 Victories for Animals.

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