World Animal Protection says UN Leaders Must Curb the Global Wildlife Trade to Protect Biodiversity and Stop Future Pandemics


World Animal Protection

Release Date

Thursday, October 1, 2020


The wildlife trade is big business and the subsequent exploitation of wild animals puts our health, economies and biodiversity at risk, says global charity World Animal Protection.

As world leaders meet this week for The Summit on Biodiversity at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the charity has a message.  In an open letter to the Summit, World Animal Protection, Humane Society International and 120 other organizations are urging UN Member States to end the cross-border commercial trade of live wild animals and their body parts, which would help achieve the UN's goals on biodiversity and prevent future pandemics.

Consumer demand for wild animals as luxury food, traditional medicine, exotic pets, entertainment and fashion accessories is driving the growth of the legal and illegal trade of wildlife.

Each year, millions of wild animals are captured from their natural habitats or bred in cruel captive conditions to be traded globally. Snakes, parrots, lizards and tortoises are just some of the wildlife species suffering as exotic pets in Canada and around the world. An estimated 1.4 million wild animals are kept as exotic pets in Canada alone. Many wild animals destined for the exotic pet trade will die before they reach markets or pet stores.

Canada is being asked to play a leadership role in restricting the trade to protect wildlife and our planet. World Animal Protection was pleased to hear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's pledge  to protect biodiversity on Monday and to hear the Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson state that expanding protected areas is "critical not just for stopping the loss of nature and biodiversity, but also to fighting climate change and helping prevent future pandemics."

At least 70% of emerging zoonotic infectious diseases are believed to originate from wildlife. The COVID-19 pandemic and previous epidemics such as SARS and Ebola have been linked to the exploitation of wild animals and encroachment on their habitats.

"This is the kind of leadership Canadians want to see their government take to help end the global wildlife trade," says Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director at World Animal Protection. "The industrial scale of the trade is not sustainable. Protecting wild animals and their welfare is crucial to stopping biodiversity loss and preventing future pandemics."

More than 30,000 Canadians have signed a petition asking the Canadian government to support and champion a ban on the global wildlife trade.

A recent Northstar poll indicates that 89% of Canadians believe the wildlife trade threatens human health and biodiversity and can cause pandemics and species extinction.

Now, more than ever, is the time to work together and build back better for the sake of all wildlife, humans and the planet.

About World Animal Protection

From our offices around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Kenya and Canada, we move the world to protect animals. Last year, we gave more than 3 billion animals better lives through our campaigns that focus on animals in the wild, animals in disasters, animals in communities and animals in farming. More information can be found at

Latest Stories