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  • Women dress a ferret in a robe at the Pet Expo in Bangkok, Thailand, May 30, 2019.

    Women dress a ferret in a robe at the Pet Expo in Bangkok, Thailand, May 30, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 March 2020
Opinion

Exotic animal trafficking is a cause of the spread of new viruses among human societies.

World Animal Protection (WAP) warned that the growing wildlife trade through the Internet encourages the acquisition of endangered animals with a devastating impact on their survival and with potentially catastrophic effects on human societies.

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Every year, millions of wild animals are either captured or bred in captivity to be traded on the multi-billion dollar exotic pet market.

This means "a bomb when it comes to infectious or fatal diseases" because these animals often remain caged in dire conditions, WAP recalled.

​​​​​​​Research by this environmental NGO points out that Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and e-commerce sites "fuel consumer demand and the black market for exotic pets."

The coronavirus epidemic and salmonella outbreaks "highlight the danger of proximity between humans and wild animals in poor conditions of captivity", WAP indicated.

The environmental NGO also demanded, "definitively end the trade in exotic pets, not only for the welfare of animals and biodiversity but also to protect human health."

In reptile trafficking, which represents 20 percent of the world trade in exotic pets, the conditions in which breeders keep these animals do not meet the minimum care standards since they remain exposed to the public inside small plastic containers and glass boxes.

More than half of the nine million wild animals kept in homes are reptiles, which can have a 75 percent mortality rate during their first year of life in captivity.

To illustrate this situation, WAP emphasized the case of the African royal python, the most legally traded animal in Africa, a continent that has exported more than three million pythons to Europe, Asia, and the U.S over the last 45 years.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

This species' farming depends directly on the capture of wild specimens that are transported in bags with other snakes, which causes them anguish, injuries, diseases and, even, death.

 “The international trade in African royal python is an important source of income for some local communities, but when all the snakes disappear, the money will, too,” World Animal Protection-Africa Wildlife Campaign Director Edith Kabesiime said.

"With the recent coronavirus outbreak, we are also understanding that the economic and human cost of demand for a luxury pet is a price not worth paying," she added.​​​​​​​

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