Traveling Zoos And Petting Zoos

24th March 2014
Travel Trauma

Animals used in traveling exhibitions are almost constantly confined to tiny transport cages or trailers. They suffer in extreme temperatures and are denied adequate food and water because transporters don’t want to bother with frequent stops to feed and water the animals and clean their cages. Without exercise, animals become listless and prone to illness, and as a reaction to stress and boredom, they may resort to self-mutilation.

Life on the road can be extremely traumatic for animals. For example, one study found that after tigers were transported even briefly, their cortisol levels, which indicate stress, increased as much as 482 percent and remained elevated for nearly two weeks.

Animals used in traveling zoos suffer both behind the scenes and when they are on display.

Not surprisingly, dangerous wild animals often attack when permitted to have direct contact with the public. For example, Great Cat Adventures, a traveling zoo that breeds big cats in order to produce cubs for use in photo shoots, was cited by the USDA four times in as many months for handling tigers in a dangerous manner during public appearances at places such as the Tulsa State Fair in Oklahoma, the Steele County Fair in Minnesota, and a shopping mall in Illinois.

Children who visit petting zoos often bring home more than their parents bargained for. Health officials indicate that petting zoos are hotbeds of serious pathogens, including E. coli and salmonella bacteria. Experts warn that infections can spread through direct or even indirect animal contact. The area surrounding the animal’s cage can be teeming with bacteria, and children can even bring it home on their clothing. The very young, the elderly, and others with weakened immune systems are especially at risk.

Children who come into contact with E. coli can develop bloody diarrhea, anemia, chronic kidney failure, or neurological impairments such as seizures or strokes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kidney failure can occur and dialysis and transfusions are sometimes necessary. Some who are sickened by E. coli bacteria must undergo surgery to have part of the bowel removed.

What You Can Do

Don’t allow animal act promoters to pass off their exploitation of animals as entertainment or conservation. By educating others and showing that cruelty to animals is neither fun nor ethical, you can help stop animal exploitation.

Stay away from petting zoos and other animal attractions which allow contact with the animals. Let kids experience animals in their own habitats or a hands-free wild habitat—and from a safe distance.

Voice your concerns to the fair organizers, shopping mall manager, or other promoters, and make it clear that the fair, mall, etc., will be boycotted if the exotic animal exhibition is booked.
Organize a demonstration, and notify the media in time for them to cover your protest.

Find out where the exhibitor is going when it leaves your community. Contact humane societies and activists in that area. Let them know what you did in your area, and ask them to do the same.

See the attached documents for further info re Wildlife in Captivity.
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