Looking for something fun and educational to do with the kids in your life? World Animal Protection, a global animal welfare nonprofit organization, just launched a free activity book, Wild Animals Aren’t 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 do not belong in our homes, in a fun and engaging way.
Featuring species like red-eared sliders, parakeets, and bearded dragons, the activity book teaches kids that wild animals can only thrive in their natural habitats and suffer when forced to spend their lives confined to small tanks or cages. Kids also learn about different wild animals, including why reptiles have scales and where amphibians live in nature.
Inside you’ll find:
Fun games including a crossword puzzle, maze, and word search
Hands-on ideas for how kids can help wild animals in their community, such as picking up litter and making windows bird-safe
A certificate for kids to proudly display once they complete all the activities
While the activity book presents the cruelty facing captive wild animals in an engaging, kid-friendly style, the issues are serious. Every year millions of wild animals are forced into the cruel wildlife trade. The US is one of the biggest drivers of the trade, and Americans’ demand for wild animals to be used as pets is a major factor.
Here are three reasons why that’s a problem.
1. Wild Animals Suffer in Human Homes
Wild animals kept as pets are unable to fully engage in their natural behaviors such as exploring, 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 cause severe psychological and physical suffering for the animals.
Wild animals require specialized, oftentimes expensive, care. Despite this, the pet industry often markets small wild animals as “beginner” pets or appropriate for small children. In reality, many wild animals demand more complex care than a dog or cat. That’s why it’s so important we teach children that wild animals can only thrive in the wild.
2. Pet Stores Rely on Cruel Mills or Capture Animals from the Wild
Even before these wild animals reach stores, the cycle of cruelty begins. Pet stores rely on dealers that import wild animals or on cruel commercial breeding facilities, commonly referred to as “mills.” Animals generally receive inadequate veterinary care (or none at all), live in stressful, unsanitary conditions, and are usually denied any social enrichment.
Mortality rates are high and built into the business model. Before reaching their final destination for sale, many wild animals die in transit. They are packed into small containers or crates without enough oxygen, and they’re unable to move. Many animals suffocate, starve, or are crushed to death. Wild-caught animals may be injured during capture, are subjected to stressful physical handling, and endure the trauma of being taken from their home.
3. Keeping Wild Animals as Pets Endangers Public Health
The wild animal trade moves animals out of their natural range and forces them into proximity 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 disease. These factors create the perfect conditions for disease mutation and transmission, setting us up for the next pandemic.
It’s critical to teach the next generation that wild animals belong in the wild. To protect more wild animals from suffering and humans from zoonotic disease, download World Animal Protection’s new activity book Wild Animals Aren’t Pets! today.
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