Black cats slaughtered and boiled in Vietnam to make coronavirus ‘cure’, says charity

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Black cats are being killed in Vietnam and turned into concoction claimed to cure coronavirus, a charity has claimed.

The No To Dog Meat group in the country says the animals are being boiled, skinned and cooked into a pasta that people are drinking in the hope it will serve as a treatment for COVID-19.

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Gruesome pictures and video obtained by the charity show rows of dead cats drying in the sun after being slaughtered, while others show cats being put into cooking pots.

Other images show the black paste allegedly produced by the process — with one apparently showing a baby being fed the mixture.

The charity says the practice is mainly happening in the city of Hanoi but the pasta is also being sold online, with traders adding ‘black cat’ to their list of supposed remedies for coronavirus.

Julia de Cadenet, founder of the charity which campaigns for an end to the dog and cat meat trade, said: “People all over the world are understandably terrified of COVID-19, but this does not excuse the horrific cruelty that Vietnamese people are inflicting on these poor cats.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that eating cats cures coronavirus, and even if there was, this inhumane treatment is a level of cruelty that is unacceptable even for those who eat meat.

“In China when the virus first broke rumours flew around that pets could spread the disease, this led to many people and the authorities rounding up animals and killing them.

“Our human fears about this pandemic should not be used as an excuse to treat defenceless animals who look to us for protection, with utter contempt.”

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She said she has warned both the UK Government and the United Nations repeatedly that unsanitary meat production such as the dog and cat meat trade could cause a global health crisis.

She added: “They recognise that live slaughter of animals in markets is particularly unsanitary and that human consumption of wildlife and endangered species must end.

“China recently banned eating wildlife and formally recognised dogs and cats as pets, not food but more needs to be done throughout Asia.

“In Vietnam and Indonesia, the practice of eating dogs and cats and exotic wildlife is still highly prevalent. Traders have been promoting ‘ exotic’ meats as a cure to coronavirus.”

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China just banned the trade and consumption of wild animals. Experts think the coronavirus jumped from live animals to people at a market.

5e27e42462fa8151df510983The closed Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, on January 12.

 

China’s wildlife-farming industry, valued at $74 billion, has been permanently shut down.

On Monday, the nation’s legislature banned the buying, selling, and eating of wild animals in an effort to prevent zoonotic diseases from jumping from animals to people.

The novel coronavirus, which has killed at least 2,700 people, is thought to have been transmitted to humans by pigs, civets, or pangolins at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China.

“There has been a growing concern among people over the consumption of wild animals and the hidden dangers it brings to public health security since the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak,” Zhang Tiewei, a legislative spokesman, told Reuters Monday.

Zhang added that the decision came at a “critical moment for the epidemic prevention and control.”

No buying, selling, or eating wild animals in China

5e54174bfee23d39cd7e0525A wet market in Dandong, Liaoning province, China.

 

Officials closed the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market on January 1, and Wuhan authorities banned the live-animal trade at all markets in the city soon thereafter.

A few weeks later, Chinese authorities temporarily banned the buying, selling, and transportation of wild animals in markets, restaurants, and online marketplaces across the country. Farms that breed and transport wildlife were also quarantined and shut down. The ban was expected to stay in place until the coronavirus epidemic ended, Xinhua News reported. But now it’s permanent.

Much of China’s wildlife trade, according to experts, was already illegal: China’s Wildlife Protection Law bans the hunting and selling of endangered species but doesn’t apply to all wild animals. But the practice persisted because of lax enforcement and legal loopholes, such as inconsistencies in species’ names and online sales of exotic wildlife as pets.

Before the new ban was instated, the Chinese Communist Party announced plans to crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade across the country, recognizing “shortcomings” in its response to the outbreak.

5e541846fee23d3abf48ddc4A vendor sells bats at a market in Sulawesi, Indonesia, on February 8.

 

Shuttering a multibillion-dollar industry

China’s wild-meat industry is valued at $7.1 billion and employs 1 million people, Nature reported. The value of the larger wildlife-farming industry is closer to $74 billion, according to a 2017 report by the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

“A total ban on trading wild animals would criminalize a substantial proportion of the Chinese population, and be untenable,” Zhao-Min Zhou, a Chinese wildlife-policy researcher, told Nature. He added that shuttering animal markets would just move the trade to the black market.

Since the outbreak began, Chinese authorities have shut down 20,000 farms raising peacocks, civet cats, porcupines, ostriches, and wild geese, The Guardian reported.

But many experts support this type of intervention to help prevent the spread of viruses.

“The government has signaled that it wants to take immediate action to prevent any future outbreaks of diseases that spread from animals to humans,” Li Zhang, a conservation biologist at Beijing Normal University, told Nature. He added that wildlife trade and consumption represented a direct threat to animals and a major public-health risk.

That’s because the close proximity of shoppers and vendors to live and dead animals at wet markets creates a breeding ground for zoonotic diseases.

“For cultural reasons in the region, people want to see the specific animals they’re buying be slaughtered in front of them, so they know they’re receiving the products they paid for,” Emily Langdon, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Chicago, wrote in an article. “That means there’s a lot of skinning of dead animals in front of shoppers and, as a result, aerosolizing of all sorts of things.”

75% of emerging infectious diseases come from animals

Three-quarters of new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bats harbor a significantly higher proportion of zoonotic viruses than other mammals. They pass them along in their poop: If a bat drops feces onto a piece of fruit that another animal then eats, that creature can become a carrier.

Genetic evidence suggests that the new coronavirus almost certainly originated in bats, which passed it to another animal. The virus then jumped from that animal to people at a wildlife market. SARS (which is caused by a coronavirus) originated in bats too, then jumped to civets, which passed it to people in a Chinese wet market. The SARS coronavirus infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 between 2002 and 2003.

Experts still aren’t sure which animal species served as the new coronavirus’ intermediary between bats and people. Many possibilities have been floated, including snakes (which is unlikely), pigs, civets, and pangolins — endangered mammals that are roasted and eaten in China, Vietnam, and parts of West Africa and whose scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

5e541901fee23d3b9f48aee3A pangolin at a wild-animal-rescue center in Cuc Phuong, Vietnam, in 2016.

 

Pangolins were the most trafficked nonhuman species in the world in 2013, according to National Geographic. The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species declared pangolin trade illegal in 2016.

The trade and consumption of pangolins was already illegal under China’s Wildlife Protection Law.