Daszak told NPR that China shut down the wildlife farms in February 2020. The wildlife farms are part of a project that the Chinese government has been promoting for 20 years.
“They take exotic animals, like civets, porcupines, pangolins, raccoon dogs and bamboo rats, and they breed them in captivity,” Daszak said.
Then on Feb. 24, 2020, the Chinese government shut down the farms.
“What China did then was very important,” Daszak said. “They put out a declaration saying that they were going to stop the farming of wildlife for food.”
Daszak said the farms could be where the coronavirus jumped from a bat into another animal, and then into people.
The farms in the southern province of Yunnan breed animals known to carry coronaviruses. Virus experts found a bat virus that’s genetically 96% similar to SARS-CoV-2 in an area where many of the farms are located.
Daszak said evidence suggests these farms were supplying vendors at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan. That market was shut down on Dec. 31, 2019.