Each year millions of ‘exotic’ animals are taken from their natural habitats and sold around the world to live in homes as pets, feeding a thriving multi-billion dollar industry in illegal wildlife trade.
But why has the demand for unique and adorable creatures exploded in recent years?
Much of the recent rise in animal trafficking can be attributed to the rise of social media and e-commerce sites that provide a way for people to both easily advertise the sale of live animals online and create trendy photos and videos to show off these exotic ‘pets’ worldwide.
In 2009, videos of slow lorises kept as pets being tickled and eating rice balls went viral, generating thousands of comments about the adorable, wide-eyed primates - creating a boom in demand for them which led to poaching lorises from the wild for the pet trade.
Kinderschema struck again!
Our attraction to their adorability completely overlooked the fact that these primates, like all other primates, are NOT pets.
Slow lorises are nocturnal animals that travel long distances at night in search of food. They eat complex diets of fruits and insects, have a venomous bit that is harmful to humans, and use urine to mark their territory – making them rather smelly creatures to keep around.
As pets, they’re often confined to cages and kept in brightly lit rooms, which cause pain and suffering for the animals. Their “owners” often have challenges meeting their special dietary needs, which leads to obesity, diabetes, even pneumonia. And to prevent injury to humans from their venomous bit, their teeth are painfully clipped or pulled out using nail clippers, wire cutters or pliers with no anesthetic, causing infection and significant blood loss.
This is why understanding adaptation and keeping informed is so important!
The more you know about how and why we make decisions as humans, what impact our decisions have on others, and also how we and others adapt to the world around us is key to creating a more compassionate world.
While some animals are able to comfortably adapt to living with humans (like dogs), and others are able to infiltrate our homes (like cats), most animals simply just share this magnificent planet with us and deserve to live their lives without our interference.
By recognizing the kinderschema effect in ourselves, we can admire adorable animals, and yet still choose to maintain our distance and respect the freedom all other creatures have to live life on their own terms, not as our pets.
Until next time...that’s what we know, and now, that’s what YOU know.
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