‘Misguided Love’ a Common Motivation for Keeping Wildlife Pets in Myanmar, Vero Survey Finds 

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‘Misguided Love’ a Common Motivation for Keeping Wildlife Pets in Myanmar, Vero Survey Finds 

Myanmar wildlife Vero

 

Wildlife belongs in its natural habitats, where it can freely express its natural instincts—a message consistently emphasized by nature conservation experts. However, in Myanmar, many seem to hold a different view. A survey by Vero in Myanmar for World Wildlife Day found that 31% of consumers raise wild animals at home because of their “genuine love for animals.” 

Vero collaborated with U Report to delve deeper into the nuances of consumer perspectives and awareness surrounding wildlife protection in Myanmar. Conducted over a period of two weeks in February, the survey garnered responses from over 900 participants. 

The survey revealed that besides this “misguided love” for wildlife pets, a significant percentage of respondents (22%) said showcasing their pets on social media also motivated them to keep them at home. Interestingly, 19% believe their actions contribute to wildlife conservation efforts. 

Vero Myanmar wildlife

“Genuine love” for wildlife is the most common motivation among Burmese when keeping wild animals as pets.

“The survey validated some hypotheses suggesting that individuals have misguided beliefs about keeping wild animals as pets at home, thinking of it as an expression of affection towards the animals and a perceived contribution to conservation endeavors,” said Tun Tun Naing, PR Director of Vero in Myanmar. 

However, over half of the respondents agreed that raising wild animals as pets is not an ideal practice, while only 25% disclosed that they currently have such animals at home. Nearly 90% think keeping wild animals home can cause harm and infectious diseases. 

More than half of the respondents believe it’s wrong to have wildlife as pets.

A significant majority believe that keeping wildlife as pets poses health hazards.

Experts believe that keeping wild animals as pets does not just raise legal and ethical concerns but disrupts natural ecosystems, exposes humans to diseases, and detrimentally affects the well-being of animals. 

The survey concludes the culmination of efforts encompassing a collaborative campaign led by Vero in partnership with a local client and their conservation partner. With the aim of raising awareness, the campaign followed a series of significant events, including the tragic death of the Bear Man of Taungoo, as reported by BBC Burmese in 2022, and Mongabay’s spotlight on the online wildlife trade in Myanmar. Despite being categorized as endangered by global indicator organizations like the IUCN, many of Myanmar’s wild animals can be found in domestic settings or kept as pets, with some owners showcasing them on social media platforms. Conservation experts have repeatedly debunked claims that keeping wild animals benefits both humans’ and animals’ well-being and conservation efforts. 

‘Keep wildlife in our hearts, not our home’ 

Central to the effort to raise awareness of the plight of wildlife in Myanmar is the awareness campaign, which strategically focuses on cultivating positive emotions, drawing parallels with pet owners’ sentiments. Insights gleaned from Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment and research conducted among urbanites in Central Africa emphasize the effectiveness of conveying relevant and optimistic messages that evoke pride and hope while aligning with consumer interests and pleasures. These strategies have proven pivotal in reshaping perspectives on conservation and curbing consumption.  

Vero’s campaign, which ran from November to January, employed two key visuals featuring iconic species to depict ideal scenarios, delivering impactful messaging to foster desired coexistence. The content predominantly focused on the behaviors and nature of wildlife, emphasizing the vital link between their well-being, family bonds, and natural habitats, advocating for “keeping these animals in our hearts, not in our homes.”  

Popular wildlife pet species such as the rhesus macaque, Black Asiatic bear, various bird species, and the star tortoise were strategically highlighted across diverse communication channels. Social media posts collectively amassed over 6.4 million impressions, reached 5.3 million users, and garnered 63.8 million engagements. 

Outreach efforts extended beyond social media platforms, including Southeast Asia and Myanmar’s super app, Grab. The amplification strategy delivered 1.4 million impressions and reached over 200,000 app users. 

The campaign highlighted the lives of wild animals, including Black Asiatic Bears, struggling in the hands of pet owners.

“The campaign ‘Keep wildlife in our hearts, not our homes’ conveys a vital message: a genuine love for wildlife entails recognizing and respecting their inherent right to live freely in their natural habitat rather than confining them in small cages at home, regardless of how noble individuals may perceive their intentions,” said Myat Thet Thet San, Associate Strategy Director of Vero in Myanmar. 

“Whether you have a passion for wild animals or nature conservation, it’s crucial to allow these creatures to thrive in their natural habitats. Eating, keeping as pets, or selling them is detrimental to both us and them, and it also harms nature. It’s important to show love and appreciation for them, but it’s equally important to ensure they can live freely in their natural habitats,” said Ko Saw Ko Oo in an interview with Sunday Media. 

Myanmar’s wildlife conservation efforts demand collective action. Initiatives emphasizing education and raising awareness about their present plight and the future that awaits them can contribute to ensuring that they can live and thrive threat-free. Every voice of support matters.  

To view the full results of the Vero survey, click here.  

 

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