CITES commits to protecting otters from the cruel exotic pet trade

27 August 2019

Yesterday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the proposal to increase protection for the Asian small-clawed and smooth-coated otters, suffering from the illegal exotic pet trade has been approved

Both species are considered to be at risk of extinction on the IUCN red list.

Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife not Pets says:

“Otters deserve a life worth living and the decision by CITES is a step in the right direction for better protecting otters who suffer at the hands of criminals involved in the illegal trading of wildlife.

“Southeast Asia has seen a massive rise in the popularity of otters as pets. But not only is it cruel and potentially dangerous to keep an otter as a pet, this trend is putting the very future of some otter species at risk.        

“A high increase of posts on social media is perpetuating the demand for keeping otters as exotic pets, which is driving the illegal hunting, illegal trafficking, and unregulated captive breeding of otters, including baby otters.

“Listing these species in Appendix I, will raise the profile and priority of these species with enforcement agencies, providing a tool for stronger regulation"

Earlier this year, an undercover investigation by World Animal Protection revealed the illegal hunting, trafficking, and potential evidence of laundering of wild-caught baby otters through captive-bred facilities across Japan, Thailand and Indonesia to satisfy a growing international demand for the animal.

      A family of wild smooth coated otters

The cruel demand

The dramatic and troubling surge of the latest “otter craze” across South East Asia is primarily being fuelled by social media influencers and interactive otter cafes in Japan, which is driving the cruel demand to keep otters as pets.

At the cafes it was found that the wild animal’s welfare is severely compromised for the entertainment of customers. The otters are heard whimpering, shrieking and making distress calls while customers are interacting with them.

Some are kept in solitary conditions with no natural light, others are seen biting their claws and exhibiting traumatized behaviour - some of the worst housing conditions included small cages with no access to water.

World Animal Protection is also urging people to not buy, own or breed a wild animal as a pet. A life in captivity is a world away from a life in the wild. Wild animals are not pets, they belong in the wild. 

Join the movement to help end the cruel exotic pet trade. 

“Otters deserve a life worth living and the decision by CITES is a step in the right direction for better protecting otters who suffer at the hands of criminals involved in the illegal trading of wildlife.
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