SHENZHEN: Since the discovery of the new coronavirus, the Chinese city of Shenzhen has prohibited the consumption of dogs and cats as part of a broader clampdown on wildlife trade.
Scientists believe the coronavirus was transmitted from animals to humans. Many of the earliest diseases were found in people in the central city of Wuhan, who were exposed to a wildlife market where bats, snakes, civets and other animals were sold.
The disease has infected over 935,000 people worldwide and has killed about 47,000 of them.
Southern Chinese technology hub authorities said the ban on eating dogs and cats will take effect on May 1.
“Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan,” the city government said in an order posted on Wednesday.
“This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization.”
In late February, China’s top legislature announced it was prohibiting wild animal trade and consumption.
Yet this week, the city council admitted that this was a “hot point of controversy” and explained that both can be consumed.
The city’s effort to combat wildlife feeding has received support from animal rights organizations.
“Shenzhen is the first city in the world to take the lessons learned from this pandemic seriously and make the changes needed to avoid another pandemic,” said Teresa M. Telecky, the vice president of the wildlife department for Humane Society International.
“Shenzhen’s bold steps to stop this trade and wildlife consumption is a model for governments around the world to emulate.”
Liu Jianping, an official with the Shenzhen Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said consumers have ample poultry, livestock and seafood available.
“There is no evidence showing that wildlife is more nutritious than poultry and livestock,” Liu was quoted as saying by the state-owned media Shenzhen Daily.
The initial rules of Shenzhen, first introduced in late February, appeared to prohibit the consumption of tortoises and frogs — both traditional dishes in the South of China.