“The world of Star Wars is not our world. Kylo Ren is not some hipster in hip-hugging jeans. Think Errol Flynn swashbuckling coolness as a point of departure. Hide that navel!” —Michael Kaplan, costume designer for The Last Jedi
People seriously underestimate the impact the media has on notions of pet ownership and what people can handle in animals.
Books, movies, TV, and internet videos from Youtube, Instagram, and The Dodo often show animals in their best moments, or even acting because they’ve been trained to do certain tasks (or are animated as humanlike characters). The fact is that the vast majority of people, even those who already have pets, have a very low or nonexistent level of animal literacy; what they take away from that kind of media oftens turns into “I want that animal as a pet.”
People who watched Finding Nemo created an explosion of demand for clownfish and blue tangs; Harry Potter, owls; 101 Dalmatians for dalmatians, etc etc etc. When the decision to get a pet modeled after the cute, photo-ready animals seen on a screen is made, there is zero consideration as to whether or not their needs can be met and if people can actually handle them.
Media featuring animals inevitably creates a boom of abandonment and huge environmental impact precisely because people who were in over their heads and acted purely on a whim got their dose of reality, and it’s incredibly heartbreaking to have to see the news detailing such cases. These are just some examples:
Yearly reminders have to be passed around telling people not to buy rabbits on Easter unless they’re committed to actually taking care of them
Thousands of dalmatians were abandoned when families discovered that they are very energy intensive, broody work dogs that are not suited to families with small children, unlike the cuddly Perdita and Pongo
Similarly, huskies and malamutes were surrendered to shelters when people realised they are not loyal Westeros direwolves
Entire ecosystems in Europe and southern Asia lost valuable apex predators when people began poaching them to sell to fans who wanted their own Hedwigs and Errols, and again abandoning them en masse when they discovered owls are highly aggressive, loud, messy, and nocturnal
Japan imported thousands of North American raccoons after the release of the Disney movie Rascal, people let them loose in the wild, and Japan now has a problem trying to figure out what to do with their enormous pest population that has no natural predator in place to control their numbers
Pacific Reefs suffered greatly when people demanded to have clownfish and blue tangs as pets, especially considering they were caught by being stunned with sodium cyanide, which, additionally, severely damages coral as well. NatGeo estimates that up to 90% of tropical fish imported by the US are caught by way of cyanide fishing; this often ends up for naught as these fish are often flushed down the toilet or released to the wild in other ways, which is also why the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are under threat by voracious invasive species like lionfish
The gist is that the media perpetuates this cycle of people reading about or seeing animal characters, demand is created, people impulse buy those animals, and then leave them for shelters to care for or release them to the wild when they get a rude awakening and find they’re actually unable to deal with those animals.
This isn’t even counting other animals like “mini” pigs, chihuahuas, snakes, foxes, etc etc etc. And we can’t exactly blame this on over enthusiastic children when it’s adults who have the purchasing power to buy a pet, and who choose to do zero research, and who choose to indulge said children or even themselves when that I Want the TV Animal as a Pet urge comes on.
Ignoring what is essentially weaponised cuteness used for online likes is hard, especially when faced with such palatable stuff like that gif of the owl riding the tablet stylus, or the plethora of cat videos. But it costs very little effort to not only educate yourself on the needs of animals and to also not encourage a rapacious pet trade industry, but to communicate that to others so that, hopefully, we won’t have to see things like Peter Dinklage and Jo Rowling having to make statements to the news because of this problem.
DAME Olivia de Havilland, becomes oldest ever Dame!
Her beauty and enigmatic smile saw Olivia de Havilland play alongside the biggest names of the silver screen – Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.
Two weeks before her 101st birthday – that the Gone with The Wind actress has been given a damehood for services to drama. It makes her the oldest woman ever to receive the honour. In a statement, she called it ‘the most gratifying of birthday presents’.