Like most emerging diseases these days, COVID-19 originated from a wild animal and was passed on to a human. This transfer took place at a wet market, a commercial area that includes the sale of wild animals for human consumption. Wet markets are largely unregulated and at high risk for spreading zoonotic disease. Many of these markets are also linked to the illegal wildlife trade.
In May, U.S. Sen. Coons introduce the Global Wildlife Health and Pandemic Prevention Act designed to halt the import, export, and sales of live wildlife for human consumption. The reduction of sales in wet markets would help stop the transmission of diseases from animals to humans, which also would prove to be the most economical means to prevent future pandemics versus treatment post-exposure. The bill, if adopted internationally would also have a direct benefit on animals such as tigers and pangolins.
The Global Wildlife Health and Pandemic Prevention Act would:
Direct multiple U.S. agencies to prioritize the closure of high-risk wildlife markets through international cooperation and diplomacy, including coordination with existing efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.
Elevate the closure of high-risk wildlife markets as a priority issue for the National Security Council.
Authorize the President to sanction nations that continue to permit high-risk wildlife markets, with exceptions made for indigenous peoples and communities that depend on wildlife for food security.
Direct multiple U.S. agencies to identify which markets and species pose the highest risk for zoonotic disease outbreak and to support a world-wide approach to zoonotic disease preparedness.
Directs those same agencies to reduce disease transmission by increasing global capacity for zoonotic disease prevention and detection and reducing human interactions with wildlife in the wild, while also working to protect and support food insecure communities that currently depend on wildlife.
To help, you simply need to contact your state representatives and express your support for the Global Wildlife Health and Pandemic Prevention Act. You can do this by visiting the World Wildlife Fund’s Call to Action Page.
Whether you’re available for a day or are looking for a long-term volunteer opportunity – you can make a valuable contribution to the Zoo’s volunteer team!
Nashville Zoo relies on your support to continue providing extraordinary animal care and education programs for the community, as well as our critical conservation initiatives.