Local Waltham Forest business risks a new pandemic

Mark Dawes, 27 July 2020, Tags:

Get To Know Animals

The Covid 19 pandemic has had a devastating impact, with thousands and thousands of deaths and untold suffering all over the world. All the available science suggests Covid 19 originated in a wet animal market in China where people have close contact with live wild - and often exotic - animals. This follows other major diseases which also have their origins in animal exploitation – swine flu from pigs, avian flu from chickens, MERS from camels, Ebola from monkeys among others. See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/06/coronavirus-world-treating-symptoms-not-cause-pandemics-un-report?CMP=share_btn_fb

It is deeply concerning that Get To Know Animals, a mini zoo in a shop, is reopening in Chingford. The 'zoo' has over 300 animals and 50 species, and even promotes people being able to handle the exotic animals. It is this close interaction between people and animals, along with the mixing of different species which would never come into contact in the wild, that is the cause of major diseases and pandemics. Exotic animals, especially reptiles, present a risk of disease transmission to the general public. This can include the passing on of salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter and microparasites. Disease risk is a heightened threat for children and the elderly who are particularly vulnerable. Waltham Forest council were contacted about these concerns, but unbelievably stated “there is no scientific basis or proof that coming into contact with any animal carries any additional health risk”, demonstrating a shocking lack of knowledge that the global pandemic we are in the middle of was caused by people coming into contact with animals! According to an officer of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “[T]here are all kinds of exotic species that may be unknown vectors of human disease”. 

Additionally, the petting of animals by strangers is stressful and cruel to the animals involved, who are far removed from their natural habitat, and also sets a bad example to children – that the business often markets to – that animals are objects to be exploited and used as playthings for humans - not the sentient, feeling creatures they are. Get To Know Animals also encourages the horrendously cruel exotic wild animal trade. By allowing people and children to pet the exotic animals, a market is created where people think wild animals are suitable pets and children then pester their parents for the “cute” animal. This is a trade where, every year, millions of exotic animals are captured – most often illegally – and sold around the world as pets, where the animals suffer terribly in unsuitable environments. For every animal that makes it to be a pet, countless others die along the way. See https://www.peta.org/issues/animal-companion-issues/animal-companion-factsheets/inside-exotic-animal-trade

Local residents expressed concerns about animal welfare - particularly that the animals are loose in the vehicle when driven about and thought this dangerous should the animal get spooked, as it could cause an accident or become a missile should they be involved in a crash. They also witnessed that almost everyone smokes in the vehicles which is not healthy for the animals either. Additionally, there is concern that social distancing may not be possible on their premises.

“I am appalled that this business is operating in Waltham Forest or indeed anywhere at all,” said Mark Dawes of Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party, “I consider this business is not only cruel to its animals but is also a disease threat to humans,” he concluded. 

"The suffering and stress which exotic animals, who are highly specialised to live in their natural environment, are being subjected to for the sake of a few moments of entertainment, is upsetting and unacceptable. There are literally hundreds of other ways in which children and adults can learn about the beauty, intelligence and biology of animals, including nature surveys and visiting animal sanctuaries" added a spokesperson from Waltham Forest Vegans. 

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