Shenzhen, a city in southeastern China, has become the first city in the country to ban the consumption of pets, such as cats and dogs, CNN has reported.
The law is expected to take from effect May 1.
Shenzhen authorities announced this week that from then on, it will be prohibited to eat state-protected wild animals and other terrestrial wild animals, as well as captive-bred and farmed terrestrial wild species, CNN said.
Animals that can be consumed will include pig, cattle, sheep, donkey, rabbit, chicken, duck, goose, pigeon, quail, as well as aquatic animals which are not banned by other laws or regulations.
“If convicted, they will be subjected to a fine of 30 times of the wild animal’s value, if the animal is above the value of 10,000CNY [$1400],” CNN reported, quoting Chinese authorities.
There is a suspicion among some scientists that the COVID-19 currently ravaging the world originated from the consumption of wild animals. While it is unclear which animal transferred the virus to humans, bats, snakes and pangolins have all been suggested.
Although since the outbreak of COVID-19, a deadly respiratory infection that has continued to harass humanity for months, officials from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said they have successfully isolated the virus in samples taken from a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan, where the infection was first recorded.
It has since taken several samples from the market, the CDC said, about three dozens of which contained the nucleic acid of the coronavirus.
Weary about this, Chinese government said it needed to regulate its lucrative wildlife industry to prevent another outbreak.
So in late February, it placed a temporary ban on all farming and consumption of “terrestrial wildlife of important ecological, scientific and social value.” This law is now expected to be fully implemented by May 1.
It is believed that ending the trade and consumption of these animals will be a tall order as they have cultural ties with Chinese cuisine, traditional medicine, clothing, ornaments and even pets, analysts say.
In 2003, after there were clues that SARS virus was transferred to humans by civets (carnivorous catlike animals with black bands and spots on the body and tail), the animals were banned and killed in large numbers.
A brief ban was similarly placed on the sale of snakes in Guangzhou, a city in southeast China, after the SARS outbreak.
However, till date some Chinese cuisines still serve menus containing these animals.