(Wiesbaden) – The corona crisis started an important discussion about the effects of human intervention in nature: In the course of this, the Zentralverband Zoologischer Fachbetriebe eV (ZZF) draws attention to the fact that inevitable contacts with wild animals and their consumption follow Unsanitary preparation can play a role in the development and spread of zoonotic pathogens. However, the ZZF warns against identifying the trade in live wild animals as the cause of the spread of zoonoses or even the emergence of pandemics and therefore wants to ban them.
Pets play no role in the development of pandemics
In particular, wild animals kept as pets have so far played no role in the development of pandemics and, based on current scientific knowledge, will not play a role in the future either. The ZZF explains this in a six-page statement with numerous quotes from scientific sources, which the association sent to political bodies at the beginning of July.
In the context of the current public discussion, both legal and illegal trade in wild animals are criticized. The ZZF criticizes that the debate is characterized by a mixture of different aspects of the wild animal trade, without differentiating according to species protection and animal welfare aspects, health monitoring, risk factors, animals for consumption or for keeping pets and applicable law. The keeping of pets and the trade in wild animals have been indiscriminately associated with a particular risk for the spread of epidemics or pandemics. Because there are fundamental differences between wet markets in China or unsanitary mass animal breeding and controlled and organized pet stores and pet breeders, according to the ZZF.
Not every possible zoonotic disease can be transmitted to humans. The examples of rabies, toxoplasmosis and psittacosis show that the danger posed by animals in the human environment is very low, probably the least in pets. Animal species with the highest zoonotic potential are not kept at all or only in a few species as offspring.
For potentially dangerous zoonoses in pets, effective measures have been taken in the past, such as vaccinations against rabies for dogs and cats, quarantine after imports, monitoring (e.g. for psittacosis disease) and special hygiene rules, the ZZF continues.
Popular pets in danger
The trade association is also critical of the fact that politicians and experts do not agree on the definition of the terms « pet », « wild animal » and « exotic »: « This could lead to popular animals such as canaries, budgerigars and reptile species, which are currently legally traded and can be found in many German households, may no longer be kept as a result of a future ban.If the definition is unclear, offspring would probably also be affected, even those that have clear phenotypic domestication characteristics in which it can not be specimens taken from nature, but which have been classified as « wild animals » in other contexts.
A premature and factually unjustifiable ban on trade in wild animals would have consequences that damage the environment in the source markets and the pet industry, would disproportionately restrict pet owners and would still not make a contribution to greater security.
The ZZF also warns against rash measures to persecute zoonoses: « Labeling all vertebrates would be neither feasible nor animal welfare-friendly, as the debate at the time on species protection labeling has already shown. »
In conclusion, the association calls for a debate based on scientific knowledge and points out that further requirements in the pet trade would lead to more and more animals being traded via uncontrolled channels. « We are calling for the pet trade to be strengthened as a job that provides suitable pets and the basics of animal welfare as well as the need for animals. »
Source and contact address:
Central Association of German Zoological Specialists (ZZF)
Mainzer Str. 10, 65185 Wiesbaden
Telephone: (0611) 447553-0, fax: (0611) 447553-33