Newly released footage reveals wet markets in operation in Vietnam throughout the COVID-19 lockdown in February and March.
At this time, the country had taken drastic measures, such as the closure of borders and schools, to prevent COVID-19 spreading from neighboring China.
But the footage, provided by Moving Animals, shows 'intense animal suffering in poorly regulated open-air slaughter markets' - despite it being widely believed that the virus originated from such a market in Wuhan, China.
Now animal advocacy group Open Cages is calling for a ban on all live animal markets to 'protect animals and reduce future pandemics risk'. According to the group, Wuhan has officially banned consumption of wild animals in hope to prevent future spillover events of zoonotic disease to humans, but it says 'live markets continue to operate under the same crowded and unhygienic conditions many experts have warned of'.
Open Cages, which describes the footage from Vietnam as 'shocking', says it shows 'a wide range of animals, including poultry, dogs, wild frogs and turtles...crammed alive into cages or bags awaiting their slaughter'.
Slaughter methods - which it describes as 'extremely inhumane' - include decapitating frogs with scissors, deshelling of crabs or the quartering of fish whilst still alive. The conditions and slaughter process, says Open Cages, are 'horrendous for the animals', and 'pose a real risk for pathogens to spread to workers, who are constantly exposed to potentially infected animals, and to customers on these busy markets'.
While Vietnam is currently drafting a directive to stop the trading and consumption of illegal wildlife, it is unknown if this will apply to all wildlife species, rather than just those deemed 'illegal', such as pangolins. Open Cages is urging the Vietnam authorities to ban the trade and consumption of all wild animal species.
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization, which has faced significant criticism over its mishandling of the pandemic, recently withdrew its support for a worldwide ban of live animal markets.
Open Cages CEO Connor Jackson criticizes this decision, and urges action in Vietnam: "This is blatant animal abuse. And we have to wake up the undeniable link between such treatment of animals and zoonotic disease," he said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"As a civilized society, we cannot leave animal wellbeing and the safety of humanity in the hands of ineffective regulations. The world is watching and waiting for a plan from the World Health Organization: when will these markets be closed?”