Vegan charity PETA has warned raising and killing animals for exotic skins 'could spark the next pandemic'.
The organization is now calling for a 'complete shutdown' of exotic-animal farms, claiming they 'can increase the risk of outbreaks of dangerous illnesses such as coronavirus (Covid-19.)
'Major breeding ground'
"Many alligators and crocodiles who are raised on farms for their skin are kept crowded together in highly unhygienic conditions, one on top of the other in pens of putrid water," PETA wrote.
"This creates a potentially serious major breeding ground for many zoonotic pathogens (causative agents of diseases that can spread from other animals to humans), including salmonella, vibrio, Aeromonas spp., Pseudomonas spp., E. coli, trichinella, West Nile virus, and others—all of which crocodilians have been found to carry and potentially pass on to humans."
PETA states the sight of a crocodile farm in Vietnam is 'reminiscent of the markets where scientists believe the novel coronavirus originated'.
Coronavirus is thought to have originated from a wet market - where live animals are slaughtered and sold alongside dead ones - in Wuhan, China, towards the end of last year. Since then it has spread globally, killing more than 160,000 people around the world at the time of writing.