Breaking: Is the World’s Most Expensive Coffee a Pandemic Risk?

PETA Asia Undercover Footage Shows Civet Cats in Filthy Cages on Coffee Plantations—This Could Be the Next Source of Zoonotic Disease

For Immediate Release:
September 8, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382


As the novel coronavirus continues to infect people around the world, a new PETA Asia video exposé reveals that Asian palm civet cats are being kept in small, waste-filled cages on farms that produce kopi luwak, a coffee sourced from their excrement for sale in tourist cafés in Indonesia and for export around the world. PETA wants them shut down—because they’re cruel as well as to protect human health, given that farms and animal markets, particularly where wild animals are kept, have given rise to outbreaks of everything from SARS to MERS to Spanish, swine, and avian flus to now COVID-19.

PETA notes that when animals are caged in their own waste and their immune system is suppressed because of stress, breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases are created. SARS, which has an estimated fatality rate of around 15%, jumped from civet cats to humans. It’s also thought that civet cats may have been an intermediary vector for the novel coronavirus. Civet cats who are no longer useful to the kopi luwak industry are sometimes sold to live-animal markets—which are still operating across Indonesia—and there, too, they can transmit disease to humans. One farmer advised an investigator not to get civet cats from a live-animal market, because they’re kept near other types of animals, facilitating cross-species contamination and then spread of disease.

“The world is already battling a deadly animal-borne disease, and the last thing we should be doing is caging civet cats so that someone can pick through their waste and sell coffee made from the beans found in it,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “If coffee drinkers continue to support the cruel and dangerous kopi luwak industry, they risk finding themselves on the wrong side of history when the next pandemic hits.”

Despite being a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, these civet cats are typically captured when they’re around 6 months old, kept in filthy cages, and fed a diet high in coffee berries—all just to produce kopi luwak. The beverage is sold around the world for up to $80 per cup.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview.

Photographs from the investigation are available here. Broadcast-quality video footage is available here. For more information, please visit or click here.

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