A perfect storm created Covid-19

The COVID 19 pandemic seems to have arisen from a perfect storm. Eating animals, wearing their fur, keeping wild animals in zoos, and having an unnatural relationship with nature have created the perfect storm. With human to human transmission, that storm has become a hurricane.

COVID 19 is a zoonosis. Zoonotic diseases are illnesses that can spread between animals and people. The flu and Ebola are also zoonoses. While scientist are still trying to understand the origin of the virus, it appears that it originated in bats. Bats are eaten in China and so are pangolins. The virus could have infected people directly or through intermediate animals, possibly pangolins or a combination of both. It begs the question, what are we doing eating these animals? Is it worth the amount it is costing us and the rest of humanity?

But what about the other animals we keep ? We recently wrote about an outbreak among mink in Denmark. Now this has spread closer to home. The virus has spread to mink fur farms in Wisconsin, Michigan, Utah, and now to our neighbor Oregon and just to the north in a fur fam outside Vancouver BC. The mink can get the virus, give it to other mink, and give to people and this is what has happened. This begs another question – why are we farming minks in crowded conditions? Given all the different materials that can go into making a coat, what are we doing farming mink?

Other animals have gotten the virus too. There’s recently been an outbreak among lions and tigers in a zoo. Federal officials and zoo staff at the Bronx zoo in New York City, announced that a tiger at the zoo had tested positive for the new coronavirus, in what is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the US or a tiger anywhere. The four year old Malayan tiger named Nadia, and six other tigers and lions that have also fallen ill, are believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who wasn’t yet showing symptoms, according to the zoo. Those are wild animals. Why are we keeping them caged up, and putting them at risk of disease?

Others are also asking questions. The famous anthropologist, Jane Goodall, herself a vegetarian, asks, “Today we stand at a crossroads. Will we continue with ‘business as usual’ or, shall we choose to get together and develop a new relationship with the natural world?” She then comments, “How shocking to realize that we brought this on ourselves. Through our disrespect of the natural world, and our disrespect of animals.” We couldn’t have said it better. But we can say that humanity knows better and can do so much better.

By following a plant-based diet, choosing not to wear fur, and not to visit zoos, the connection between the animals and humans is broken and pandemic zoonoses will no longer be the problem they are. It’s also better for the environment and, of course, for the animals themselves.