The Wildlife Conservation Society issued a statement concerning China’s announcement to temporarily ban the sale of wildlife in markets, restaurants and over e-commerce.

Said Dr. Christian Walzer, chief global veterinarian at for the Wildlife Conservation Society:

“The Chinese government’s announcement today to temporarily ban the sale of wildlife in markets, restaurants and over e-commerce needs to be permanent. We congratulate the government for taking this important first step.

“The banning of such sales will help end the possibility of future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases, such as the Wuhan coronavirus. We learned this lesson with the outbreak of another zoonotic disease, SARS, in 2002. The pattern will keep repeating itself until we ban, not only in China, but in other countries, the sale of wildlife, specifically for food and in food markets.

“Poorly regulated, live animal markets mixed with illegal wildlife trade offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spillover from wildlife hosts into the human population and for viruses to exchange viral components amongst the multiple species being traded creating new viruses with new host spectrums. Chinese scientists believe the Wuhan Coronavirus originated in wildlife sold illegally in a live animal market.

“With the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus, we at WCS, and many other health experts have been in agreement about banning the sale of wildlife in these food markets. We issued this statement HERE last week.

“We are calling for three solutions to prevent this complex global challenge: close live animal markets that sell wildlife; strengthen efforts to combat trafficking of wild animals within countries and across borders; and work to change dangerous wildlife consumption behaviors, especially in cities. This may sound daunting. However, not only is this now a global health priority that cannot be ignored, but for China’s concerned populace and government, the time is right.

"Humans are getting sick from eating or being exposed to wildlife in these markets; wildlife populations are being depleted as they are poached and hunted for these markets; and economies and the poor are harmed as the mass culling of animals in response to these outbreaks increase the cost of basic animal protein (domesticated farm animals like chickens and pigs) that hit the poor the hardest.”