Most people don’t consider having their photo taken with a cute cub or having a cuddle as harmful. The truth is that they are the product of factory farming where the cubs are removed so that the mother can produce another litter in six months time, as opposed to two years time, if she had the opportunity to raise her own offspring. These factory farmed cubs are often kept in unsuitable cages with little regard for their social requirements. What happens to these human imprinted animals when they have outgrown their cute factor? They cannot be rehabilitated or sold to game reserves. Visit www.lionrescue.co.za for more information.
How educational are petting zoos? What children really learn when they see animals in petting zoos is how frightened animals behave in captivity and that it is acceptable for them to be stressed for entertainment. Caged animals, even traditionally domesticated animals like goats, pigs, donkeys, and sheep, suffer from boredom and disorientation. Pigs confined to small spaces and deprived of the company of other pigs can become destructive and dangerous. Separated from normal social groups and natural habitat, the stress of captivity is heightened by unusual noises, closeness to animals of other species, and the lack of shelter where animals can avoid contact with humans if they choose.
Petting zoo operators perpetually breed or purchase animals so that they will have an endless supply of “cute babies” to draw crowds. These babies are prematurely removed from their mothers, denying them the natural socialization process needed for normal development and then these frightened, helpless babies are mauled by excited for our entertainment. Older animals are simply disposed of when they have exhausted their usefulness. Baby animals bring in visitors and money, but this incentive to breed new baby animals leads to overpopulation. Surplus animals are sold not only to other zoos, but also to circuses, canned hunting facilities, and even for slaughter.
The vast majority of captive breeding programs do not release animals back into the wild. The offspring are forever part of the chain of zoos, circuses, petting zoos, and exotic pet trade that buy, sell and barter animals among themselves and exploit animals.
Removing individuals from the wild will further endanger the wild population, because the remaining individuals will be less genetically diverse and will have more difficulty finding mates.
If people want to see wild animals in real life, they can observe wildlife in the wild or visit a sanctuary. A true sanctuary does not buy, sell, or breed animals, but takes in unwanted exotic pets, surplus animals from zoos or injured wildlife who can no longer survive in the wild.
Children who visit petting zoos often bring home much more than their parents bargained for as petting zoos can infect children with potentially lethal bacteria.
There is something inherently wrong with taking children to pet domestic and ‘farm’ animals, and then feeding them some of those same animals later!