Looking for something fun and educational to do with the kids in your life? World Animal Protectiona global non-profit animal welfare organization, has just launched a free activity book, Wild animals are not Pets! focused on why wild animals belong in the wild, not in our homes. The goal is to educate children about why wild animals commonly sold in pet stores like PetSmart and Petco have no place in our homes, in a fun and engaging way.
Featuring species such as red-eared sliders, parakeets and bearded dragons, the activity book teaches children that wild animals can only thrive in their natural habitat and suffer when forced to spend their lives confined in small tanks or cages. Children also learn about different wild animals, including why reptiles have scales and where amphibians live in the wild.
Inside you will find:
Fun games including a crossword puzzle, maze and word search
Hands-on ideas for how kids can help wildlife in their community, like picking up litter and making windows bird-safe
A certificate for kids to proudly display once they’ve completed all the activities
Although the activity book presents the cruelty faced by wild animals in captivity in an engaging, child-friendly style, the issues are serious. Every year, millions of wild animals are forced into the cruel wildlife trade. The The United States is one of the main driving forces of commerce, and the American demand for wild animals to be used as pets is a major factor.
Here are three reasons why this is a problem.
1. Wild animals suffer in human homes
Wild animals kept as pets are unable to fully engage in their natural behaviors like exploration, living in family structures, foraging or, for some species, even regulating their body temperature. It is not possible to create the freedom and space that these animals need in captivity. This can lead to severe psychological and physical suffering for the animals.
Wild animals require specialized, often expensive care. Despite this, the pet industry often markets small wild animals as “beginner” pets or suitable for young children. In reality, many wild animals require more complex care than a dog or a cat. This is why it is so important to teach children that wild animals can only thrive in the wild.
2. Pet stores rely on Cruel Mills or capture wild animals
Even before these wild animals reach the stores, the cycle of cruelty begins. Pet stores rely on dealers who import wild animals or on cruel commercial breeding facilities, commonly called “mills”. Animals generally receive inadequate veterinary care (or none at all), live in stressful and unsanitary conditions, and are generally deprived of any social enrichment.
Mortality rates are high and built into the economic model. Before reaching their final destination for sale, many wild animals die in transit. They are packed in small containers or crates without enough oxygen, and they are unable to move. Many animals suffocate, starve or are crushed to death. Wild-caught animals can be injured during capture, are subjected to stressful physical handling, and experience the trauma of being removed from their homes.
3. Keeping wild animals as pets endangers public health
The wildlife trade moves animals out of their natural range and forces them closer to humans and other species they would never come into contact with in the wild. Whether wild-caught or captive-bred, animals are often highly stressed and held in unsanitary conditions without veterinary care, making them more susceptible to contracting and transmitting diseases. These factors create the ideal conditions for disease mutation and transmission, preparing us for the next pandemic.
It is essential to teach the next generation that wild animals belong to nature. To protect more wild animals from suffering and humans from zoonotic diseases, download the new World Animal Protection activity book Wild animals are not pets! today.
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