Charities speak out against campus petting zoos

puppies-1PRESSURE IS piling on college bosses to axe further plans to bring animals on to campus after another charity spoke out against them.

Wood Green Animal Shelter, a small charity with headquarters in Cambridgeshire, said these activities should be “avoided”.

Meanwhile, the National Animal Welfare Trust, which deals with the rescuing and rehoming of animals, did not want to comment but did say it did not know that these activities went on at universities.

It comes after Alcuin College hosted its ‘welfare farm’ for a second time earlier this month.

Louise Tuck, the Community Outreach Manager at Wood Green, said while the organisation “acknowledges and supports” the research that highlights the benefit animals bring in reducing stress, it shouldn’t “compromise the animals welfare solely for the benefit of people”.

“In terms of what students can do, ideally it would be great to encourage them to avoid having animals in for de-stress sessions! Instead encourage them to spend time with their own animals or friends and families that they have been properly introduced to if this is the type of experience they are looking for,” she said in a statement.

“If they love animals and would like an ‘animal fix’ but want to give something back, approach your local Rescue Centres (ensuring they have good welfare standards) and offer to make toys for the animals or ask about volunteering options for a few hours a week.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) originally spoke out against the idea of bringing animals on to campus in June, describing it as “extremely disappointing”.

At that time, a spokesperson for Alcuin said that the welfare of the animals was a “main priority”.

Meanwhile, Halifax, which opened a puppy lounge-style room, added that they would use a “highly-reputable charity” that would take the animals’ welfare seriously.

York Vision understands that as many as five of the university’s colleges have used animals since term 3 of last year. Only one is believed to have redone their event this year but it is not clear if the others have plans to bring back their events too.

A university spokesman said they no intention to ban the activity or restrict its use.

“On the whole I think these activities are unproblematic provided that the animals are well treated,” he said.

“Our health and safety staff inspected the activities during the last exam diet and were satisfied that they would not cause any distress to the animals.”

Jack Gevertz
Jack Gevertz is the former editor-in-chief of York Vision.