Listen Up! The Political Animal Podcast: Episode #8: Live-Animal Markets Threaten Many Species, Including Humans

The Political Animal Podcast Episode 8

The Political Animal Podcast Episode 8

WASHINGTON, DC, USA, February 17, 2020 / -- The human death toll for the coronavirus has eclipsed 1,600, more than double the number of people who died as a consequence of the SARS virus in 2003. The common thread between these public-health emergencies was China's wet markets, which have proved to be a dangerous mixing bowl for viruses that cross from non-humans to humans. "Wet markets" are open-air trading posts where wild and domesticated animals are sold for slaughter and human consumption, and, in some cases, they are incubators for zoonotic diseases. The coronavirus became a global health concern once it began to spread between humans, prompting quarantines affecting tens of millions in Wuhan and surrounding areas and putting people and governments across the planet on high alert.

In today's podcast, host Joseph Grove talks with Wayne Pacelle and Marty Irby about the public-health threats spawned by these live-animal markets. The risk and reward of these animal bazaars could not be more asymmetrical. On one hand, there are profits for a few hundred wet market operators, farmers who raise exotic animals, and wildlife traffickers who snare, trap and capture the creatures destined for the markets. On the other hand, there is a large-scale loss of life, the disruption of global transportation, and untold reverberations in the transnational economy because of the movement of the disease. There is a revolt among Chinese citizens about these markets, with so many people in China calling for their shut-down.

The appetite for wildlife is not just a threat to us, but of course to the animal victims themselves. They die in inhumanely maintained "farms" or from live-capture from the wild or in transport or at the markets themselves where they are slaughtered.

In today's episode, Wayne and Marty also discussed wildlife trafficking for other purposes -- in this case, for products used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They discuss the Bear Protection Act, newly introduced bipartisan legislation that seeks to stop the killing of bears for their gallbladders. Introduced by Senators John Kennedy, R-La., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., as S. 3196 and also by Reps, Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Anne Kuster, D-N.H., and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa. as H.R. 2264, this legislation is designed to forbid trade in the internal organs of bears for their purported medicinal purposes. We urge listeners to contact their federally elected officials at 202-225-3121 and urge lawmakers to cosponsor these bills.

The Political Animal podcast is a weekly segment that not only delivers timely information but offers insights and analysis you won’t hear anywhere else. We’ll offer in-depth discussions of local, state, or federal policy and elections, and the effects of laws and regulations on corporations. We hope you’ll listen today, and also check out Episode 7: Fixing the Lethal Abuses in Horseracing, Episode 6: The Role of the USDA Checkoff Problems in Harming Animals and Family Farming in the U.S. Episode 5: Fighting a Diabolical Plan to Round Up Tens of Thousands of Wild Horses. Episode 4: Big Cats: Endangered in the Wild and in Danger as Captives in the U.S., Episode 3: Michael Vick and the Continuing Battle Over Animal Fighting, about the renewed attention on convicted dog-fighter and NFL player Michael Vick and implementation of the latest animal fighting law, Episode 2: Shark finning, horseracing, and the PACT Act that includes a layered discussion of how the committee process works and why it's so difficult to even get common-sense measures into law. If you missed our first episode, you can listen here: Episode 1: 2019 Victories for Animals.

Wayne Pacelle is the founder of Animal Wellness Action, president of the Center for a Humane Economy, and former president of the Humane Society of the U.S. who conceived the idea of the PACT Act. He founded the Humane Society Legislative Fund and prior to that, he was executive director of The Fund for Animals. The Non-Profit Times named him seven times as one of the nation’s top 50 non-profit executives, and in 2005, he was named executive of the year. Pacelle is a two-time New York Times bestselling author of The Bond, and Humane Economy.

Marty Irby is the executive director at Animal Wellness Action. Irby worked in the United States House of Representatives for Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) serving as Communications Director and Animal Protection and Agriculture Policy Advisor. He is a former president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, where he led the charge to bring an end to the painful practice of “soring” walking horses. Irby is a Heritage Foundation Congressional Fellow, former director of equine protection and rural affairs at the Humane Society of the U.S., and native of South Alabama who grew up on a horse and cattle farm. He graduated from the University of South Alabama with a degree in Communications, attended Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and was named by The Hill as one of nation’s Top Lobbyists for 2019.

Joseph Grove is a freelance writer and six-time recipient of awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. His background also includes hosting a radio show called Jargon on WQMF FM in Louisville, Ky., and podcasts for Bisig Impact Group and Southern Gaming and Destinations. He began dedicating his volunteer time to animal issues in 2014 and currently works as a court-appointed special advocate for children in family court in Shelby and Spencer Counties in Kentucky.

Marty Irby
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