Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has written to Australia’s University of Canberra (UC) to reconsider its plan to host a petting zoo during its stress-less weeks this year.
It’s gotten the university to cancel the annual event of petting puppies and cuddling chickens, according to ABC.
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Rice also suggested the use of jumping castles and three-legged races as alternatives for the stress-less weeks usually held to calm students’ nerves before exams.
“It’s terrifying for [the animals]. In the lead up they’re caged, they’re transported around,” PETA spokeswoman Emily Rice said.
“If you have baby farm animals they’ve obviously been taken away from their parents at some point and put into that situation.”
A university campus is really no place for animals. It’s noisy and boisterous.”
PETA also plans to lobby other Australian universities that organise petting zoos on their campuses to consider alternative activities to spare the animals from the stress.
“We encourage universities to consider it off the back of Canberra’s compassion and do the same,” Rice said.
The Australian reported that UC’s 2015 pre-exam activities had included petting zoos and other fun stuff, interwoven with more informative sessions with counsellors on inclusion and welfare, health and wellbeing.
Thomas Nielson, UC’s educationist and expert in positive psychology and student wellbeing, spoke about the abundance of research to show that simply being around animals is good for the human psyche, especially a stressed one.
“There is ample evidence available to show that being around animals reduces stress and cortisone levels.”
However, this year UC Deputy Vice-Chancellor Nick Klomp agreed with some of PETA’s points, saying they were valid. And while there will be no petting zoos, there will be other activities – massages, meditation, yoga, and music – planned.
“We have all sorts of events including massages, meditation, yoga and music. All sorts of things that students can participate in to help reduce their stress,” he said.
There’s still a chance for animals to take part in the event, according to Klomp, via a bring-your-own-pet to campus day or something of the sort, for example.