PLANS TO bring a petting zoo into a Scots university, to help students blow off steam after exams, have been axed due to health and safety fears.
Stirling University students union had planned to bring in the zoo as one of a number of measures, which also included massages and a bouncy castle, to help students de stress after tough exams.
However animals rights group the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] have called in to put a halt to the plans over concerns for the animals treatment.
PETA contacted the students union to raise concerns about how animals can be treated by those who run petting zoos, and the potential health risks to students.
Richard Raymond, the union’s vice president for engagement and education, said that union officers had agreed not to host a petting zoo after further examining the concerns raised.
He said today: “At the beginning of the year, we started looking at what we could do for planning de-stress events for students round exam times and when dissertations are due.
“A petting zoo was mentioned as part of the plans, along with other ideas such as bouncy castles, film nights, massages and several other things.
“PETA got in touch to express their concerns around petting zoos. We did a bit more research and agreed that it wasn’t something that we would hold, as we couldn’t guarantee the treatment of the animals visiting.”
Mr Raymond said that the union had several events lined up to help students cope with stress, including a film night and massages for students at the end of next month.
Animal rights organisation PETA campaigns throughout the world for the ethical treatment of animals, and has used celebrities such as Alicia Silverstone and Pamela Anderson in its high-profile campaigns.
The group has criticised petting zoos, claiming that animals can be poorly treated by the people who run the zoos.
PETA’s Dan Howe said: “Petting zoos are a bad bet for students and for animals. Travel, confinement to small cages and rough handling cause animals intense stress.
“Exhibitors take young animals on the road and, if they survive the ordeal, typically dispose of them when they become older and more difficult to handle.
“At the same time, experts indicate that petting zoos are hotbeds of serious pathogens, including E coli and salmonella, which increase the risk of illness among human visitors.
“It’s good news that University of Stirling students will now get to unwind in ways that don’t harm animals or endanger their health.
“Last year, we also persuaded the University of Leeds to cancel a petting zoo and encouraged students to speak out (and let us know, too) if their university has any similar plans.”
The announcement comes a week after Dundee University’s Student’s Association said they were bringing in similar plans to help students relax during the hectic exam schedule.