New video footage released today reveals what animal advocates describe as 'blood-soaked' live animal markets in India, with campaigners saying the 'filthy' conditions create a 'Petri dish for pandemics'.
The investigation, by vegan charity PETA India, had led to the group calling for the immediate closure of these markets.
Numerous experts believe the current coronavirus pandemic originated from a wet market - where live animals are sold and slaughtered alongside dead ones - in Wuhan, China. This has led to calls to ban the markets worldwide.
According to PETA, its footage at Ghazipur Murga Mandi in Delhi shows men 'slitting live chickens' throats, skinning the birds, and sorting through their flesh, which was soaked in blood and guts, with their bare hands'.
It documented 'captured dogs killed and sold for meat at the Keera Bazaar in Dimapur, Nagaland' (the region has just banned dog meat sales, but they continue in other areas).
PETA's investigators witnessed sellers at the Nute Bazar in Manipur handling the 'charred remains of wild animals including monkeys, wild boars, porcupines, and deer'.
'Petri dishes for pandemics'
The footage exposes ' rampant violations of Indian legislation for wildlife protection, animal welfare, and food safety', says the organization, which is now calling on authorities to close down all such live-animal meat and wildlife markets – because they risk spreading disease.
PETA director, Elisa Allen, said: "The next deadly virus will be just around the corner as long as filthy 'wet markets' filled with raw meat and sick and stressed animals are permitted to operate. PETA is calling for the closure of these Petri dishes for pandemics."
The charity adds that 'outbreaks of swine flu, avian flu, HIV, foot-and-mouth disease, mad cow disease, and other illnesses have also stemmed from capturing or farming animals for food'.