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After reports of positive tests for Covid-19 by some exotic cats and primates in captivity, animal rights activists are calling on the public health minister of Thailand to ban all photo opportunities with exotic animals to avoid potential outbreaks of coronavirus, either from human to animal or from animal to human.
A letter to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul , written by People for the Ethical Care of Animals, better known as PETA, urging him to ban photos of exotic animals. They say the photo opportunities in Thailand are still operating and are "undermining attempts to control the pandemic."
According to PETA's senior vice president, Jason Baker, the Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm, and Zoo, Bangkok's Safari World, and the well-known Tiger Kingdom, which has locations in Chiang Mai and Phuket, allow tourists to come in close contact and take photos with wild animals like tigers, orangutans, and monkeys.
"There are numerous guests in places like these every day, and it would take just one infected person to start another coronavirus disaster."
In the letter, Baker says that transmissions of Covid-19 between captive animals and humans have been documented in other parts of the world, such as a zoo in Spain where asymptomatic employees infected some captive tigers. He warns the Minister of Health of Thailand that if the virus is caught by big cats or primates, it could lead to a new variant.
"If they catch the virus, it can mutate and the human population might be unleashed by another new strain."