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[WWF Japan x Ueno Zoo] May 31st (Wednesday) is “World Otter Day”! We will be holding an event called “The backside of Asian small-clawed otter that only zookeepers know”!

Limited to 105 pieces per day, “Ura no Kao Shiori” will be given as a gift! @Ueno Zoo

World Wide Fund for Nature Japan (Minato-ku, Tokyo, Chairman: Takejiro Sueyoshi, hereinafter WWF Japan) and Tokyo Ueno Zoo (Taito-ku, Tokyo, Director: Yutaka Fukuda, hereinafter Ueno Zoo) will celebrate World Otter Day. (May 31), in order to make many people aware of the problem of using small-clawed otters as pets, we held an event for visitors, "Learn about the back side of the small-clawed otter that only the keeper knows." No Kao” will be held at Ueno Zoo from May 25th (Thursday) to May 31st (Wednesday).

* What is “World Otter Day”?

It was launched by the International Otter Survival Fund to raise awareness of otter education and conservation around the world. It is celebrated on the last Wednesday of May every year, and this year it is May 31st.

  • Overview of the event for visitors “Know the back of the small-clawed otter, known only by the keepers, with the “Ura no Kao Bookmark””
  • The small-clawed otter is said to be a pet because of its cute appearance. However, little is known about their ecology and habits, as well as the risks associated with using pets such as extinction, poaching, and smuggling.

    WWF Japan and Ueno Zoological Gardens have created a booklet called "Backside Bookmark" that allows you to easily learn about the backside cover of small-clawed otters that only the breeders know, in order to let more people know about such information. We will set up a panel with this inside the Ueno Zoo. Visitors are free to peel off this “Ura no Kao Shiori” from the panel and take it home with them. If you peel off the "Ura no Kao Shiori", information about the ecology and habits of small-clawed otters, as well as the risks associated with using pets, will appear on a panel.
    *There is a bookmark inside the envelope. All 3 types of bookmarks are included at random, so you cannot choose the type.

    Left: Panel (before peeling off the backside Kao bookmark)

    Center: Panel (after peeling off the "Ura Kao bookmark") Different information appears on the panel for 7 days. Images are from day 1 and day 7.

    Right: All 3 types with different back sides

    ■ Date and time

    May 25th (Thursday) ~ 31st (Wednesday) 13:00~14:00

    * 105 bookmarks will be pasted on the panel every day during the period. (ends as soon as it runs out)

    ■ Venue
    Ueno Zoo East Garden Next to the Animal Cenotaph *Entrance fee is required.


    ■Overview of “That Pet Ura Kao Only Keepers Know”

    Last year, with the cooperation of Inokashira Zoo, Ueno Zoo, Kyoto City Zoo, and Nasu Animal Kingdom, WWF Japan released video content " That pet Ura no Kao that only the keeper knows" has been released. In this campaign, which calls for a review of the use of wild animals as pets, zookeepers explain the ecology and habits of animals and the accompanying difficulties in keeping them as pets. In addition, it conveys five risks associated with keeping wild animals as pets.

    Campaign site: https://www.wwf.or.jp/campaign/uranokao/

    ■Increase in “use of wild animals as pets” and 5 risks in the background

    Japan has one of the world's largest wildlife pet markets. The number of imported wild animals (*1) used as pets in 2021 is estimated to exceed 400,000, and has been on the rise in recent years. The number of business offices for animal sales other than dogs and cats is increasing year by year, and will reach 5,413 in 2021 (*2). According to an awareness survey (*3) of 1,000 people aged 15 to 79 conducted by WWF Japan in February 2021, one in six (17%) has exotic pets (rabbits, hamsters, etc.). Domesticated small animals are not included here). On the other hand, 68% answered that they were not familiar with the five risks associated with raising pets.

    <5 risks>

    Extinction: 20% of the animals on the IUCN Red List (approximately 85,000 species) are designated as endangered species (CR, EN, VU), of which 11% are confirmed to be pets or exhibited. (As of June 2022) (*4).

    (Example) The small-clawed otter population has decreased by more than 30% over the past 30 years. It is currently listed as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List.

    Poaching and smuggling: In 2007-2018, a total of 78 cases and 1,161 animals were found at customs as smuggled animals bound for Japan.

    (Example) In the 12 years from 2007 to 2018, 119 slow lorises were found at customs as smuggled to Japan.

    Infectious diseases: Wild animals may carry pathogens of various animal-derived infectious diseases (zoonotic diseases).

    Animal Welfare: It is extremely difficult to realize the five freedoms (freedom from hunger and thirst, discomfort, pain/injury/sickness, freedom from fear and oppression, and freedom to express normal behavior) (*5).

    Alien Species・・・There have been many cases of animals such as raccoons and green anoles being abandoned outdoors as pets, adversely affecting native species and the local ecosystem.

    ■Source/reference materials

    (*1) Imported live mammals and birds excluding domesticated animals (ferrets, hamsters, rats, mice, guinea pigs, and pigeons) from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's import animal statistics,

    and Ministry of Finance Extracted and estimated the number of imported live reptiles and amphibians from trade statistics. ”



    (*2) Animal handling business registration/notification status (Ministry of the Environment, 2021)


    (*3) Japanese awareness survey on exotic pets (WWF Japan, 2021)

    In the survey, exotic pets are defined as "animals other than those kept as general pets, especially foreign animals and animals of wild origin", and a questionnaire was conducted.

    Small animals that are domesticated as pets, such as rabbits and hamsters, are not included here.

    (*4) Calculated by WWF Japan based on the IUCN Red List https://www.iucnredlist.org/

    (*5) Japan Animal Welfare Association (2017) "Animal Welfare" https://www.jaws.or.jp/welfare01/

    Reference material: Reducing Demand for Exotic Pets in Japan (WWF Japan, TRAFFIC, Globe Scan, 2021)


    ■ About WWF

    WWF is an environmental conservation organization active in over 100 countries and was founded in Switzerland in 1961. Aiming for a future in which humans and nature can live in harmony, we are promoting the realization of a sustainable society. In particular, we are working to restore the richness of biodiversity, which is being lost, and to realize a decarbonized society to prevent global warming. https://www.wwf.or.jp