Live animal markets

WHO’s recent report demanding the suspension on sale of live wild animals on food markets

FOUR PAWS Statement


14th April 2021 – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for a halt to the sale of live wild mammals in food markets to prevent the emergence of new diseases. The WHO said that while traditional markets play a central role in providing food and livelihoods for large populations, banning the sale of live wild mammals could protect the health of market workers and shoppers alike. 

Kieran Harkin, Head of Wild Animals in Trade at FOUR PAWS, statement in response: “After years of campaigning for a ban on the commercial trade of wildlife, FOUR PAWS sees the recent announcement of the WHO as a milestone for animal welfare and an acknowledgment of the efforts from animal welfare groups in their continuous calls for a ban of live animal markets in preventing the next pandemic.”

“Live animal markets are unhygienic, unregulated and provide the optimal conditions for zoonotic diseases to spread. Animals of different species, such as bats, pangolins, snakes, dogs, and cats, are usually crammed into confined cages, and slaughtered for human consumption. The conditions the animals are transported to the markets and then kept before being slaughtered lead to weakened immune systems increasing the likelihood of illness and pathogen transfer between species and humans.”

“Although FOUR PAWS welcomes and supports the WHO’s demand, we would like to highlight that live animal markets are not the only source of dangerous zoonotic diseases. Pigs and chickens are treated equally dreadfully in factory farms and have succumbed to swine and bird flu worldwide. Millions of minks, vegetating on fur farms in Europe, have been infected with COVID-19 and reinfected humans with mutations of the virus. To prevent zoonotic pandemics in the future, FOUR PAWS asks that not only the sale of live wild animals on food markets should be banned but all live animals, including dogs and cats. Furthermore, fur farms and factory farming must be put to a stop and the reduction of meat consumption must be promoted. This will also ensure that wild animals' habitats are not further destroyed, and that the climate crisis is no longer fueled. 

If we let animals suffer like this, we humans will suffer the consequences of zoonotic diseases.”

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Press contact

Elise Burgess

Elise Burgess

Head of Communications

T: 02 9198 4417

M: 0423 873 382

FOUR PAWS Australia
GPO Box 2845 

Main Phone: 1800 454 228

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.

Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. 

With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in 12 countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.