Vegan Rising | ANIMALS USED IN PETTING ZOOS
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ANIMALS USED IN PETTING ZOOS

ANIMALS USED IN PETTING ZOOS

Petting zoos normalise animals kept in captivity for children and the public, giving the impression that animals exist for them to be treated without regard for their wellbeing. What children learn when they see animals in petting zoos is that it is acceptable for animals to be frightened, to be kept in captivity, to be stressed and transported long distances for entertainment. Not only are these animals confined to a small area, they have countless people petting, hugging and poking at them.

Young animals are repeatedly forced into small, crowded and noisy environments where they are mauled and poked at throughout the day with no option of escape.

Animals used in petting zoos for the entertainment of children suffer from boredom and disorientation. Separated from normal social groups and natural habitat, the stress of captivity is heightened by unusual noises.  There is also a lack of shelter where animals can escape to, to remove themselves from contact with humans if they choose. Many children and adults are unaware that many animals in petting zoos do not like to be handled.  The body language of animals is ignored. Along with ignoring the social and behavioural needs of the animals, their physical needs are often neglected – shelter from the weather, especially during the summer months, often limited access to fresh water, and the animal feed is often dependent on the children/public feeding the animals.

A calf in a petting zoo who should be feeding from his mother
Source: TripAdvisor

Petting zoo operators perpetually breed or purchase animals so that they will have an endless supply of “cute babies” to draw the crowds. These babies are prematurely removed from their mothers, denying the natural socialization process for normal development and then these babies, frighted, are driven from place to place for entertainment.

Animals in petting zoos are typically sold or disposed of when they reach a certain age, as they lose their “cuteness” and become too difficult to transport.  Some petting zoos also home slaughter the animals.  This is an unregulated industry and there are no standards that they are expected to adhere to.

WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING?

We should be teaching children about compassion, and to view animals as living, sentient beings whose lives matter to them and who do not exist for the purpose of our entertainment. This cannot be taught to them from within small glass and wire enclosures where the animals can be mauled and poked as children please.

The alternative is to visit a sanctuary. At sanctuary’s, the animals needs are put first, and they can interact with visitors if, and only if, they decide to, on their own terms and in their own surroundings.

Frosty the Snow Goat
Edgar’s Mission Farm Animal Sanctuary – Victoria, Australia

Unlike a petting zoo, at a legitimate sanctuary, the animals have been rescued and you can be certain they will not be killed and replaced with younger animals once they get too big.

Boots young and old – resident at Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary
Credit: Edgar’s Mission

Visit an animal shelter to provide company to lonely animals.  You can even volunteer in these environments. Seeing animals in the wild by visiting nature reserves is also a great way to teach children about animals as they should be living.

Author: Jaysherrie Terraqueos
Founder of Melbourne Goat Save

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