CUTE IMAGES, CRUEL FATE
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – they are all over the social media: endearing videos of exotic creatures kept as pets. The implication is that exotic animals are suitable as companion animals, but the truth is they suffer. They are ripped out of their natural habitats and are isolated from their fellow species. The rising demand for "cool" pets has led to poaching, illegal trade and the extinction of entire species.
· We educate the public and campaign for banning the distribution of these kinds of animal videos on social media.
· We help in the countries of origin.
· We lobby for changes to legislation on wildlife husbandry and trade.
ETN e. V. informs and educates, explaining why exotic creatures are totally unsuitable as pets and pointing out the devastating consequences of keeping them in captivity. We make internet users aware of the disastrous implications for these animals of every "like", "share" or positive comment. We support projects to release animals into the wild in their countries of origin, helping animals that are victims of the wildlife trade. We campaign for tighter regulations on exotic animal trade and husbandry.
We aim to stop the exploitation of wild animals as pets and the underlying animal trafficking, which threatens whole species and their environment.
We hope to achieve our mission through following measures:
- Raise awareness towards the underlying problems of keeping wildlife as pets.
- Inform internet users how harmful a simple like, share or positive comment on a video can be for a whole species.
- Make internet users stop liking/ sharing wildlife as pets videos.
- Motivate internet users to spread the message and be active life-savers for whole species.
- Make Facebook and YouTube (and ultimately all other platforms) ban videos showing wildlife as a pet.
A cute lemur, that “asks” local children for a cuddle. That cute loris (a prosimian species), who is nibbling on a lump of rice or is holding a tiny umbrella. A racoon, trying to “wash” cotton candy in water, wondering what is going on when it disappears. How cute, isn´t it?
Every animal-loving person who has stumbled over one of these videos surely got stuck watching them, being all excited about the cuteness of interaction between this exotic animals and humans. The animals are obviously fine, so where´s the problem?
Unfortunately, these videos substantially harm the efforts of nature conservation organizations to protect species in the wild and to teach people that wild animals don’t make good pets. This is a huge problem that arouse with the distributions of those cute videos via social media – who doesn´t love cute animals videos, what can be wrong watching them? Videos of cute wild animals in interaction with humans have gone viral during the last years, reaching thousand or even millions of people.
Why´s that? Studies have shown that these videos suggest viewers that all kinds of endangered species are suitable as pets, and have found that the need for wild animals as a pets increases in response to those videos. A study was able to show that people were more likely to think that chimpanzees make great pets if they had seen a picture of one standing alongside a person.
A whole lot of 10% out of 12.000 comments, made in reponse to a slow loris video from 2009, claimed they wanted a loris as a pet, as a study from 2013 found. Only very few people have even been aware of the existence of this species before those videos went viral, but suddenly, millions knew them, and many decided that they want one of these cute animals as a pet.
With the increasing demand of this species as a pet, which already was critically endangered because its natural habitat is disappearing on a rapid scale, poaching in natural populations has increased in order to meet the demand for these animals as pets, leaving the species on the brink of extinction.
What people don´t know – to make the loris a good pet, their teeth are clipped, without anaesthetics. Why? Because Loris are actually venomous. They carry glands on their elbows, and that venom helps them to protect themselves, or to hunt prey. That´s why they´re holding their arms up in such a sweet way in this video. They don´t want to be tickled. They are deeply stressed, and try to defend themselves. Furthermore, those animals are nocturnal, and arboreal. This means that they are active only at night, and always hold on to a branch because they move in tree canopies. This is why they are holding on to that tiny umbrella in such a sweet manor. No, not cute. Cruel. Here we´ve got a species that is absolutely unsuitable as a pet, and is now on the brink of extinction, thanks to social media, and…well, thanks to us.
Not only lorises are at risk because of viral videos, the same applies to several species of especially smaller primates like the pygmy marmoset, or marten dogs, that look similar to usual dogs, but are not domesticated and behave accordingly. Many of these wild pets have been illegally trapped as babies from the wild – a traumatic process for the babies, during which mothers and other group members are often killed.
But that´s not the only problem – wild animals that have been bred in captivity are not suitable as pets, either. Most owners are not aware of the mostly very specific needs of the species, and the animals displayed in the videos often act distressed, are too fat or too skinny, or show further signs of illness. Many die early. In case they reach adulthood, many show signs of aggression towards their owners, which eventually decide to get rid of them. But as those pets are often only used to the company of humans, they cannot be kept together with their conspecifics, and if they have not already been euthanized by their owners anyway, they spend their remaining lonely life in individual cages in a rescue centre. Usually the owners of exotic pets are not aware of this – if an animal is raised by humans, there´s no way it will ever be able to live with its conspecifics. Animals need to learn how to “correctly” communicate and behave towards their conspecifics, too. If they didn´t learn this when they were young, there´s no way back into a “normal” life for these poor animals.
So – if you find yourself confronted with a video showing cute exotic animals again, please resist the urge to watch it, or even share it or comment it positively. Instead, help us to change the situation!
…to help us fight the illegal exploitation of endangered species:
- Don´t watch, like or share videos showing wild species that are kept as pets.
- Share the following comment under every video showing exotic animals as a pet: “This is #cruelnotcool! Posting, liking and sharing these kinds of videos have led to increased animal trafficking, leaving species on the brink of extinction due to the increasing amount of people wanting them as pets. Please don´t support this. Visit: www.etn-ev.com/exoticanimals”
- Share this information with your friends!
- Do not think about getting an exotic animal as a pet, but consider donating money towards its conservation.
Last but not least: Support our work!