China's infamous wet markets have recently drawn the attention of the world after it was revealed that the coronavirus outbreak originated from one such wild animal market in the city of Wuhan that sold meat, fish as well as exotic animals, usually in unsanitary conditions, making them a hotbed for deadly bacteria and viruses like COVID-19.
However, China isn't alone as a shocking new report has revealed that New York City also has dozens of similar wet markets all over the city.
New York City's wet markets
An investigative report by animal rights organization, PETA, has revealed that New York City is riddled with more than 80 wet markets that sell and slaughter a variety of species including goats, sheep, chickens, guinea hens, rabbits, pigeons, Muscovy ducks, and quail, for human consumption
According to PETA, most of these live-animal markets are located close to schools, parks and in residential neighbourhoods. Every day, thousands of terrified animals are brought in from factory farms in other states and often denied food and water before their throats are slit open.
The organisation has described these animal markets as "blood-soaked slaughterhouses" where customers can choose live animals, which are then butchered while the customer waits. These establishments, like China's wet markets, have also been known to keep the animals in unhygienic and inhumane conditions, which is a recipe for disaster.
A ticking time bomb
The animals are kept in cramped, filthy and germ-infested cages, potentially putting people working or shopping there at risk of contracting a deadly virus.
"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 faeces, blood, and offal can contaminate buyers and sellers and be tracked into restaurants or homes," PETA said in a petition to shut down the live-animal markets in New York City, which has already garnered more than 13,000 signatures.
Since 2016, animal rights activists, epidemiologists and public health advocates have been calling for authorities to ban these markets in order to prevent the transmission and spread of infectious diseases, but to no avail.
"New York City's wet markets are a ticking time bomb. If avian flu or another infectious disease is transmitted to just one human, it could spread very rapidly in New York City and beyond, as we have seen with COVID-19," said Jill Carnegie, a co-organizer with Slaughter Free NYC, to animal rights newspaper Their Turn.
The United States currently has the most number of coronavirus cases in the world with 277,467 people infected with the virus and the country's death already crossed 7,400. New York is the epicentre of the outbreak in the country with more than 100,000 infections and over 3,200 deaths.
Outrage on social media
Although the live animal markets in New York City have been operating their businesses for years, the issue has only recently come to light, sparking outrage on social media with activists and netizens alike demanding a ban on these markets. Here are some of the posts: