SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — Animal groups are calling for a ban on ‘wildlife cafes’ and ‘experience zoos’ that allow visitors to touch or feed animals, which can increase the risk of infection.
The Korean Animal Welfare Association and others held a press conference in front of the National Assembly on Thursday, claiming that these institutions are “time bombs that can cause and spread new kinds of epidemics.”
“The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 70 percent of all epidemics in the last 30 years came from wild animals,” protestors said. “The Wuhan coronavirus, too, is reported to have been caused by contact with wildlife.”
Wildlife cafes, however, have expanded from 35 to 64 locations over the last two years without holding any responsibility to protect the animals.
“‘Zoo Tours’ that bring wild animals to local daycare centers and schools to force human contact with the animals are also becoming more widespread,” they added.
Wild animals, weak and frail due to stress for being locked up in a poor and unsanitary environment, are highly exposed to the risk of infection. In many cases, however, they are left without veterinary diagnosis or treatment.
“The Wild Animal Protection and Management Law should be amended to ban wild animals from being raised or put up for exhibition in facilities other than a zoo,” they added.
“The current registration system for zoos and aquariums should be replaced by authorization system to impose stricter regulations on the so-called experience zoos.”
“Despite efforts to contain the coronavirus, there are people out there selling wild animals in the streets of Seoul,” said Rep. Lee Sang-don of the minor Bareunmirae Party.
“Experience zoos and touring zoo cafes continue to operate, encouraging children to get in contact with wild animals.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)