When it comes to keeping animals as pets, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of confining wild animals to cages. A wild animal is just that, a wild animal, and the chances of the creature reverting to its true nature and turning on its handlers is a very real possibility.
But what about the dangers to the animals themselves? If you were made aware of them beforehand, would you be as likely to want to bring one into your home? Sadly, for a lot of people, the answer is still "yes."
World Animal Protection
Roughly a year ago, it was revealed by National Geographic that researchers with the London-based nonprofit World Animal Protection and WildCRU, Oxford University’s wildlife conservation research team, came up with a quiz to determine if providing different kinds of information, like human health risks and animal welfare or conservation concerns, would influence consumers in regard to buying an exotic pet.
Wild Animals as Pets
In the online quiz, questions such as "Would you be less likely to buy that animal if you knew it’s endangered?" or " What if you knew that it’s likely to become sick or hurt while on its way to you?" were asked, and the answers were startling. According to NatGeo, "Most respondents said that even if the animals were endangered or were going to suffer while being caught and transported, they'd buy them anyway." Huh?
Deterring Exotic Pet Ownership
It should be noted that the purpose of the quiz was to figure out what kind of information would be most persuasive in preventing people from seeking out exotic animals for pets. If emphasizing the harmful aspects of exotic pet ownership in relation to the animals themselves won't deter consumers, what will? The answer is actually pretty obvious. Not surprisingly, it's about how it impacts the buyer.
“The effects on the animals themselves weren’t persuasive in terms of changing attitudes,” says Neil D’Cruze, a World Animal Protection and WildCRU researcher who was instrumental in helping to develop the quiz and went on to co-author a study analyzing the responses. What it boils down to is pointing out or demonstrating the risks to animals—as opposed to people—would appear to carry less weight, and therefore "may not be the best strategy to bring about change."
The quiz was accessed through a link after people searched keywords concerning exotic pet ownership. After answering questions as to personal preference, matches were proffered along with information about the potential pet. Some were provided neutral info about the animal’s diet or habitat. Others saw details about the risks to either pet owners or the animals. Quiz takers were then asked if they wanted to purchase the animal.
Studies on Wild Animals
After sifting through the findings from more than 1,300 respondents across the globe, the results revealed that shoppers presented with information regarding the risk of disease and/or legal consequences facing exotic pet owners were 39 percent less likely to be interested in purchasing the creature than shoppers who were only given facts pertaining to diet or habitat.
On the flip side, info highlighting animal welfare had what was termed a "minimal effect," while details outlining the creature’s threatened status in the wild had no impact on a person’s decision to purchase the animal whatsoever.
What's Wrong with This Picture?
If you're trying to wrap your head around the blatant disregard for animal welfare, you need to let it go. You will never be able to understand the mindset capable of this kind of reasoning—no matter how wrong you think it is—so don't even try. Just be glad researchers have figured it out.