The Zoological Society of London has released a statement on its views of COVID-19 and wildlife exploitation:
The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has brought concerns of wildlife health and impacts on human health to the fore of public attention worldwide and sparked calls for immediate action, including bans on wildlife trade. While calls for bans or market closures are well intentioned, their impacts are likely to be short term, limited, and potentially damaging as they move trade into illegal markets where capacity to enforce regulations is extremely challenging.
ZSL believes that the unsustainable exploitation of wildlife either for consumption or other uses must stop, that animal welfare standards must improve, and that known high-risk species for zoonotic disease emergence should be closely regulated and ultimately should not be traded for food.
Coming out of this pandemic, we must reset our relationship with nature. Rampant biodiversity loss increases the chances of future zoonotic spillovers and facing more frequent pandemics.
COVID-19 underlines that we ALL need to work together to conserve nature and preserve the ecosystem services, including disease regulation, that biodiversity provides while also understanding and changing human behaviours and activities which lead to disease emergence.
*Zoonotic, any disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans.