Researchers at the University of Adelaide are apprehensive that social media platforms contribute to the normalization of exotic pets and encourage the exotic pet trade.
Researchers examined people’s reactions to videos on YouTube showcasing human encounters with exotic animals and discovered that they were highly favorable, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.
Some of the YouTube videos included monkeys in diapers, primates as pets, and pet tigers chained up and engaging with people in front of their homes. Individuals who watched the videos expressed a desire to be close to the animal and engage in a similar connection.
Unfortunately, that is concerning as it could imply that people believe these connections are normal and acceptable. This kind of connection also leads to supporting the exotic pet trade.
The famous Netflix show Tiger King had us in awe anytime we saw anyone cuddling with newborn cubs. However, this kind of behavior is concerning as there are 3,900 tigers globally, and this ongoing trend could contribute to them going extinct.
About 1 in 10 of households in the US keeps an exotic animal as a pet, but this is not a problem just in the U.S. The exotic pet trade is a worldwide issue. So how do we change things for the better?
YouTube could play a more active role in teaching the public about what is inappropriate by including a specific symbol on videos like that. While educating others is critical, it has to be accompanied by stronger policies and reporting systems.
YouTube must make improvements to its policies and software. There needs to be a way to detect crucial phrases in video titles or descriptions that automatically get detected and flagged for review. Without making those changes, more exotic animals will go extinct.