Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has exposed serious deficiencies in the current legal framework to protect wild animal health, and consequently human health. As noted by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), animal health and welfare are inextricably linked. However, there is no international agreement to promote animal welfare and neither the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora nor the Convention on Biological Diversity, adequately address the welfare of the species they seek to conserve. While the OIE provides guidance on animal health and welfare standards for common agricultural species, it has provided limited guidance for the farming of wild species. China’s wildlife farming industry has been linked with the spread of COVID-19 but, to date, China has introduced few national welfare controls to protect the health of wild animals bred for human consumption. In the wake of COVID-19, these omissions must be remedied to provide appropriate safeguards to ensure animal health and welfare and protect public health.