Breaking Investigation: Kopi Luwak and the Next Pandemic

PETA Calls For Shutdown of Filthy Civet Farms to Prevent the Next Deadly Zoonotic Disease 

For Immediate Release:
September 9, 2020

Jakarta — As COVID-19 rages around the world and live-animal markets continue to operate as normal in Indonesia, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is calling for a ban on another potential health hazard. A shocking new PETA video investigation of an Indonesian/Bali live-animal market and civet farms that produce kopi luwak—which is made from coffee berries that have been eaten and excreted by Asian palm civets—has revealed widespread cruelty. But the filthy conditions in which the animals are kept also pose a threat to human health.

The group notes that live-animal markets and farms where wild animals are kept in their own filth and have weakened immune systems are breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases and that SARS, which has an estimated fatality rate of around 15%, is known to have jumped from civet cats to humans. Civet cats who are no longer useful to the kopi luwak industry are often discarded in the forest or sold to live-animal markets. The investigation revealed that civet cats with painful wounds were kept in filthy cages near other animals at such a market in Indonesia, facilitating the spread of disease.

In light of the findings, PETA has sent an urgent letter to President Joko Widodo urging him to shut down Indonesia’s kopi luwak farms immediately for everyone’s health and well-being.

In the letter, PETA states, “As the coronavirus tightens its grip on Indonesia and the rest of the world, people are becoming increasingly alarmed by businesses involving wild-caught animals. Some of those fears can be allayed by shutting down the kopi luwak industry immediately.” The letter is available in full here.

“Filthy live-animal markets, where civet cats are packed in close to other species, are petri dishes for pandemics. The kopi luwak industry is the last thing that should be operating as the world battles a deadly animal-borne disease,” says PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker. “PETA is urging everyone to stop supporting this cruel and dangerous business—or risk being on the wrong side of history when the next pandemic occurs.”

Despite being a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Asian palm civets are typically captured when they’re around 6 months old; kept in filthy cages encrusted with feces, dirt, and decomposing coffee berries; and given almost nothing to eat but coffee berries—all just to produce kopi luwak. The beverage is sold around the world for over IDR 1 million per cup.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview.

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