Activating animal rights activists have released disturbing images that appear to show bleeding and rotting animals, including bats, in wet markets in Asia.
Taken during the coronavirus pandemic, the harrowing clip shows animals including ducks, bats, monkeys, snakes and chickens covered in blood.
Campaign group PETA, which shared the videos from six countries, has called for the banning of wet markets around the world – saying they are a breeding ground for pathogens that could spread another deadly disease.
PETA said the images taken in the month of April in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are being released, despite the Covid-19 outbreak.
Cats are among the animals sold for meat, the group said.
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The cause of the disease, which has claimed more than 300,000 lives worldwide, is believed to be a wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
In a statement, PETA said, “Live, terrified animals as well as bloody carcasses and rotting meat were lifted for human consumption.
In multiple locations, researchers observed researchers walking around in flip-flops on floors covered with various body fluids, handling raw meat and touching blood-stained countertops without gloves.
“In two other markets, civets and bats were sold for food, even though they are a reservoir for severe acute respiratory syndrome (commonly known as SARS), another notorious deadly coronavirus.”
Ducks and chickens were kept in tight cages next to dead birds, causing enormous trauma, campaigners said.
Workers are seen handling non-gloved dead and live animals – which can lead to the spread of bacteria, PETA said.
The group’s statement continued: “All wet markets are potential breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases, such as Covid-19, SARS and MERS.
“In such markets, feces and other body fluids can easily get on the shoes of merchants and customers and be followed in restaurants and homes.
“The workers who handle the animals often don’t wear gloves (as seen in the video footage) and can also spread bacteria.
“Flies swarm around the bodies of dead pigs and other animals, and the countertops and floors are streaked red with the blood of gutted fish and slaughtered animals.”
PETA spokeswoman Emily Rice said, “Blood-soaked live animal markets brimming with sick and stressed animals are known as mature breeding grounds for pathogens that can cross the species barrier, so why are they still open?
“A new pandemic is inevitable if we don’t learn from it, so PETA is calling on WHO to take action against these cruel and dangerous operations.”
The group has written to governments in all countries where images were taken.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for stricter safety and hygiene standards in wet markets.
It said governments should ensure that wildlife is not sold for food.
WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “The WHO’s position is that if these markets are allowed to be reopened, they should only be subject to strict food safety and hygiene standards.
“Governments should strictly prohibit the sale and trade of wild animals for food.”
He continued: “Because an estimated 70% of all new viruses come from animals, we also work closely together [with the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, of the United Nations] to understand and prevent pathogens that cross from animal to human. “