China to Offer Buy-Outs to Farmers Raising Exotic Animals for Human Consumption: Report

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"Chinese farmers," Li said, "not only have an opportunity to leave a trade that poses a direct threat to human health — something that can no longer be tolerated in light of COVID — but also to transition to more humane and sustainable livelihoods such as growing plant foods popular in Chinese cuisine."

The Humane Society International noted that the buy-out does not, however, protect exotic animals bred for their furs, or for medicine and entertainment.

According to HSI, China's overall wildlife trade is worth about $73 billion, $18 billion of which is attributed to meat consumption. Some $55 billion is through its fur industry.

"While the transition of wildlife farmers to other livelihoods is, of course, a very positive move for both people and animals, a really sad inevitable consequence of that," said Li, "is that a vast number of the wild animals being mass-produced on farms across China will likely be culled or moved to other exploitative industries such as zoos and traditional medicine where animal welfare is typically extremely low and conditions woefully sub-standard."

Li added: "The wild animal breeding farms and factories facing closure and transition must not sacrifice animal welfare in an effort to implement the new changes."

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