PETA Appeals to WHO to Close Live-Animal Markets to Prevent Further Pandemics

PETA Launches Worldwide Push to Cut Deadly Animal-Borne Diseases Off at the Source

For Immediate Release:
March 25, 2020

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Geneva, Switzerland

As COVID-19 continues to spread, PETA has sent a letter and launched an international petition to the World Health Organization urging it to call for the permanent closure of live-animal meat markets worldwide, pointing out that markets crammed full of sick and stressed animals are breeding grounds for deadly diseases.

“It’s a matter of when—not if—the next pandemic will occur, as long as live-animal markets are permitted to continue endangering both humans and other animals,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is urging the World Health Organization to take the commonsense step of calling for the closure of these dangerous operations.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, visit

PETA’s letter to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus follows.

March 25, 2020

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus


World Health Organization

20 Avenue Appia

1211 Geneva 27


Dear Dr. Ghebreyesus

We’re writing to you urgently because, while the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unpredictable, one thing is certain: Live-animal meat markets will continue to put the planet’s human population at enormous risk. On behalf of PETA and more than our 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, we respectfully ask that you call for the immediate and permanent closure of these markets, in which dangerous viruses and other pathogens flourish.

Deadly outbreaks of mad cow disease, avian flu, swine flu, SARS, HIV, hoof-and-mouth disease, and others have stemmed from capturing or farming animals for food. Live-animal markets are perfect breeding grounds for diseases, which can jump from various other species to humans, since stressed, injured, and sickly animals are commonly caged in public areas—sometimes even on sidewalks—where feces, blood, and offal can contaminate buyers and sellers and be tracked into restaurants or homes.

While some live-animal markets in China have closed, perhaps only temporarily, many continue to operate throughout Asia, including Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market, which the Bangkok Post called a “Wuhan in the making.” Wet markets also operate in Africa, Europe, and the U.S. More than 80 live-animal markets and slaughterhouses operate on the crowded streets of New York City alone.

If we’re to prevent future pandemics, we must heed the warning of top coronavirus researchers like Dr. Danielle Anderson, scientific director of the Duke-NUS Medical School, and cut them off at the source. We urge the WHO to call for the closure of all live-animal meat markets worldwide to prevent the next outbreak.

Yours truly,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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