Stirling University Cancels Plans For Petting Zoo After Concerns From PETA

For Immediate Release:

20 March 2014


Ben Williamson +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 229; [email protected] 

Students’ Union Sabbs Commit to Avoiding Events Which Mistreat Animals

Stirling – After learning from PETA about how petting zoos contribute to a cruel cycle of breeding, abandonment and killing, students’ union officers at the University of Stirling cancelled plans to host a petting zoo on campus this semester. In an e-mail, Richard Raymond, vice president of education and engagement, said, “Stirling Students’ Union is keen to hold events which promote mental, physical, sexual and social health but not at the expense of the health of animals. After receiving an e-mail from PETA, we discussed it among the sabbatical officers and realised that a petting zoo on campus wouldn’t be a good idea after all”.

“We’re delighted that Stirling Students’ Union has decided against having a petting zoo on campus – sparing animals the stress of travel, confinement and handling”, says PETA Associate Director Mimi Bekhechi. “Hiring a bouncy castle or masseurs for the day are just some of the ways that the school can help students unwind this term without putting themselves and animals at risk. We commend the student representatives for turning their backs on this ill-conceived plan.”

Experts indicate that petting zoos are hotbeds of serious pathogens, including E coli and salmonella. The area surrounding an animal’s cage can be teeming with bacteria. According to the Health and Safety Executive, infections can spread through direct or even indirect animal contact, and in some cases the illness can be fatal. Those with weakened immune systems are especially at risk, which is greater cause for concern if students are anxious around exam time. People who come into contact with E coli can develop bloody diarrhoea, anaemia, chronic kidney failure or neurological impairments such as seizures and strokes.

Even at the best zoos, animals are rarely kept in normal social or family groups. Habitats are usually very small and inhibit or prevent natural behaviour, including running, scavenging and selecting partners. The animals’ frustrations can lead to abnormal, neurotic and even self-destructive behaviour. Exhibitors take young animals on the road and, if they survive the stress of transport and handling, typically dispose of them when they become more difficult to handle, replacing them with new animals. Every year, sanctuaries have to turn away requests to house large animals, and other cast-offs end up entering the exotic “pet” trade.

PETA’s correspondence with Stirling Students’ Union is available upon request. For more information, please visit