In Animal Outlook’s latest investigation, our investigators visited 18 live markets in San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. Nestled among peoples’ homes and neighborhood shopping areas with children walking past them on the way to school, animal cruelty at these live markets is hidden in plain sight.

While visiting these live markets, our investigators documented multiple cases of what we consider to be animal cruelty violations including:

  • A live turtle having their head chopped off with a butcher knife in front of other animals.
  • Fish being bludgeoned before being dismembered, and if they’re still moving being hit multiple times with a club or the flat side of a knife.
  • Frogs kept in a tub with no water or a small amount of dirty water, and softshell turtles in tubs with no water.
  • Fish swimming weakly upside down in small, shallow plastic containers, and fish attempting to swim in small tanks surrounded by dead and dying animals. 
  • Fish left to suffocate out of water. 
  • Fish with visible wounds.
  • Animals, once purchased, being put into plastic bags while still alive, prolonging their suffering.

Research has shown that fish and other aquatic animals have the capacity to suffer, whether it’s in massive industrial tanks like those documented in our previous investigation of Cooke Aquaculture, in the ocean, or in tanks at urban markets like these. 

Live markets like these are not only hotbeds of animal cruelty, they have also been proven to be breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses that cause disease. Live markets in the US have been implicated in at least five outbreaks of the bird flu, and one of the prevailing theories is that COVID-19 was originally transmitted from animals to humans at a live market in China. Live markets put animals of different species in close proximity with each other and to humans, which can lead to the spread of zoonotic diseases. 

And these live markets are not in rural areas, away from humans, they are located within cities, near apartment buildings and shops. This cruelty is happening in plain sight.

Multiple surveys have shown that most people are opposed to animal cruelty, and there are laws in every state to protect animals. But still, cruelty is allowed to continue under the veil of live markets. We showed our footage to local residents, and here’s what they had to say:

  • “It looks incredibly inhumane.”
  • “It looks really cruel. It’s torture for the animals if they’re still alive.”
  • “We should be further than that by now. It’s even more uncomfortable to know that it’s happening right around here.”
  • “I think there needs to be much stricter regulations. I think laws need to start changing. That is animal cruelty.”

We’ve asked for enforcement of these laws to bring accountability for this widespread cruelty.

Your support will help continue to expose the cruelty animals experience in facilities ranging from live markets to large scale animal agriculture farms. Please donate today to fuel undercover investigations like these. 

You can also help the millions of animals who are used and exploited for food by removing them from your plate and encouraging others to do the same.