SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) – The southern Chinese technology hub of Shenzhen is moving to outlaw the consumption of dogs and cats as the country clamps down on the wildlife trade that scientists suspect led to the coronavirus outbreak.
The proposed regulations from the city government list nine meats that are permitted for consumption, including pork, chicken, beef and rabbit, as well as fish and seafood.
“Banning the consumption of wild animals is a common practice in developed countries and is a universal requirement of modern civilisation,” the notice said.
Scientists suspect that the new virus passed to humans from animals. Some of the earliest infections were found in people who had exposure to a wildlife market in Hubei’s provincial capital Wuhan, where bats, snakes, civets and other animals were sold.
The document recognised dogs and cats’ status as pets and would ban their consumption. Snakes, turtles and frogs were excluded from the approved list, despite being popular dishes in China’s south.
A ban on eating dog and cat meat in Shenzhen would be “extremely welcome,” said Peter Li, China policy expert for Humane Society International, an animal welfare group.
“Although the trade in Shenzhen is fairly small compared with the rest of [Guangdong] province, Shenzhen is still a huge city and is larger than Wuhan, so this would be very significant and could even have a domino effect with other cities following.”
The other permitted meats are lamb, donkey, ducks, geese and pigeon. The proposal noted there are more than 2,000 species of protected wildlife in China.Shenzhen’s proposal follows a decision by the central government on Monday for an immediate ban in the trade and consumption of wild animals, after an initial suspension in January.
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