The University of Canberra has confirmed to PETA that it will never again host an on-campus petting zoo as a part of its “Stress Less Week” for students. This compassionate decision came after PETA reached out to university heads, informing them that these exhibits are detrimental to animals.
Petting zoos are incredibly stressful places the exploited sentient beings, who, unlike human visitors, cannot leave when they’ve had enough.
A busy space filled with noisy crowds and live music is a highly unsuitable environment for animals, and being handled and forced into close proximity with strangers is a stressful and traumatic experience for most species.
What’s more, petting zoos contribute to a cruel cycle of breeding, abandonment, and killing. Exhibitors take young animals on the road and – if they survive the stress of transport and handling – typically dispose of them when they become more difficult to handle or are no longer young and “cute”. These exhibits can also present a risk to human health: experts warn that they’re hotbeds of serious pathogens, including E. coli and salmonella, and the areas surrounding the cages may teem with bacteria. According to the Health and Safety Executive, infections can spread through direct or even indirect contact with animals, and in some cases, the resulting illnesses can be fatal.
The University of East London, the University of Leeds, and the University of Stirling also all cancelled similar events after learning from our colleagues PETA UK about the impact that petting zoos have on animals’ welfare.
We hope other Australian universities will follow the progressive lead of the University of Canberra by implementing policies against featuring live animals in campus events.
If you hear of any similar planned events, please let us know.
Please also visit our Action Centre to learn about more ways to help animals abused in the entertainment industry.