Elaine here from APA, checking in to update you on our latest campaign news. But before I do that, I’d like to entice you into your local pet shop! Because seeing first hand the problems associated with exotic pet shops gives you a taste of the issues that APA tackles on a daily basis….
If it’s a shop that sells animals then the chances are that exotic species (fish, frogs, reptiles, meerkats, unusual hedgehogs etc) will be on sale. The industry has boomed in recent years, particularly the sale of reptiles, although the range of exotic mammals has also increased and indications are that the primate pet trade has grown in popularity too.
Before we begin our pet shop tour, it’s important to bear in mind that the ‘exotic pets’ inside the glass vivariums, cages and aquariums are essentially wild animals. Unlike domesticated animals like cats and dogs, which have been bred over thousands of years to live alongside people, most exotic species are not – and could not be – domesticated. This is because they lack certain genetic traits that would allow them to easily adapt to new environments, and as a result they often die prematurely as pets.
The first, and most obvious, problem is lack of space. Snakes are often unable to stretch out (which they need to do for their well-being). Finches and budgerigars rarely have space to fly and large parrots in standard cages cannot even fully spread their wings.
Captivity-stress in wild animals manifests in a myriad of behavioural problems – a few of which are easily spotted. Notice the lizard climbing and digging around the glass walls of its tank. This sign of stress results from the reptile’s inability to recognise the invisible barrier (as they would never encounter glass walls in the wild!) Feather-plucking in parrots can be a sign of ‘boredom’, and bar-chewing by rodents is a sure sign they want out!
– APA has been working behind the scenes, alongside leading authorities in exotic animal biology and welfare, to help to modernise pet shop regulation in Britain improve animal welfare.
– Following the launch of our jointly-funded report on European reptile and amphibian markets, APA was instrumental in halving the number of UK reptile markets last year and we’re keeping up the pressure this year!
– Our research has shown that most pet reptiles, with natural potential lifespans from 8 to 120 years depending on species, die within just one year.
– Brussels, along with other European animal protection groups, we recently launched the report: ‘Wild Pets in the European Union’, detailing the animal welfare, environmental and public health problems caused by the exotic pet trade. We’re calling for immediate action to ban wild-caught imports and to ultimately introduce a ban on all trade in wild animals as pets.
For more information, visit: www.apa.org.uk