In April 2011, three African Clawed Frogs were surrendered to SPCA by a member of the public who won them at a fair. Kept in a tiny tank, one frog had already died. African Clawed Frogs grow to the size of a hand and can live for more than ten years. Highly invasive, they have caused the decline of native frogs in other countries.
These frogs were won as prizes and this case highlights the problem of the use of animals as "attractions" in public places. Studies have shown that such animals often suffer from uncaring owners, simply because they were acquired without planning, effort or the consideration of the heavy responsibility of pet ownership.
Animals have long been used in public, either as a marketing tool, or as crowd-pleasers at events. For most animals however, being in a public place is stressful. Most animals are only comfortable when they are in a stable home territory, and are very fearful of environments and humans they do not know.
If these animals are taken to public places they can get overwhelmed by the noises, smells, and the incessant attention of people looking or trying to get a response. Unable to hide, they cower in fear or glaze over in shock. In some cases, they even die.
The use of animals in public places or at events not only has negative welfare implications for the animals concerned, it can also send out negative educational messages to visitors. People who see these animals often do not learn that animals have different needs or express themselves in different ways to humans.
The exploitation of animals reinforces the concept that animals are commodities for people to use for their amusement. It can cause impulse buying by encouraging people to buy pets for very superficial reasons. Even a small animal such as a hamster or turtle requires a certain level of knowledge, resources and commitment, especially if children are expected to be the main care giver.
If you are planning on using animals in public places, the SPCA asks you to consider
alternative options first.
If animals are to be used it is essential that they are provided with adequate conditions, shelter and hiding areas, and that thought has gone into the educational message being delivered. Do not give animals as prizes and ensure good planning for the animals after the event.
Businesses that use animals to draw crowds with no regard for their welfare put a low value on life. You have a choice: don’t support such companies/organisations!