Looking for something fun and educational to do with the kids in your life? World Animal Protectiona global non-profit organization for the welfare of animals, 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 at pet stores like PetSmart and Petco don’t belong in our homes, in a fun and engaging way.
Featuring species like red-eared sliders, parakeets and bearded dragons, the activity book teaches children that wild animals can only thrive in their natural habitats and suffer when forced to spend their lives confined to 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, a maze, and a word search.
Practical ideas on how kids can help wild animals in their community, like picking up trash and making windows bird-safe.
A certificate for children to display with pride once they complete all activities.
While the activity book presents the cruelty captive wild animals face in an engaging, kid-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 biggest drivers of the trade, and Americans’ demand for wild animals to be used as pets is a main 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 to the animals.
Wild animals require specialized care, which is often expensive. Despite this, the pet industry often markets small wild animals as “starter” or appropriate pets 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 that we teach children that wild animals can only thrive in the wild.
2. Pet stores trust Cruel Mills or capture animals from the wild
Even before these wild animals hit stores, the cycle of cruelty begins. Pet stores rely on dealers who import wild animals or cruel commercial farms, commonly called “mills”. The animals typically receive inadequate (or no) veterinary care, live in stressful and unsanitary conditions, and are typically 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 in small containers or boxes without enough oxygen and cannot be moved. Many animals suffocate, starve or are crushed to death. Wild-caught animals can sustain injuries during capture, are subject to stressful physical handling, and endure the trauma of being removed from their home.
3. Keeping wild animals as pets endangers public health
The wildlife trade takes animals out of their natural range and forces them close 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 kept in unsanitary conditions without veterinary care, making them more susceptible to contracting and transmitting diseases. These factors create the perfect conditions for disease mutation and transmission, preparing us for the next pandemic.
Teaching the next generation that wild animals belong in nature is critical. To protect more wild animals from suffering and humans from zoonotic diseases, download World Animal Protection’s new activity book. Wild animals are not pets! This day.
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