US shame: Wallabies in nappies
RED kangaroos are selling for $US3000 in the United States in a booming trade that reduces Australia's national icon to the status of domestic pet.
And their smaller kin, wallabies, are being touted as excellent inside pets, with tips to keep them in nappies and walk them on leashes.
The rush to have Australian natives as pets is horrifying conservation groups which believe the trend can be found worldwide.
The issue has boiled over recently after The Daily Telegraph revealed the abominable conditions of the red kangaroo Tyson, which was living out its life in a roadside zoo in the town of London in Ontario, Canada.
Let Canada know just how you feel about Tyson's suffering. Follow the links at the bottom of this story or join our Canadian kicking page here .
While the red kangaroos for sale in the US are generally bred there, anger is building that our closest neighbour New Zealand is exporting many of the wallabies for the international market.
The internet is littered with websites promoting wallabies as pets.
The mammals being sold overseas are mainly bred from New Zealand colonies exported years ago before the Federal Government banned their overseas sale.
National Kangaroo Protection Coalition co-ordinator Pat O'Brien said complaints made to New Zealand over live wallaby exports had fallen on deaf ears over the years.
"It's absolutely disgraceful," he said. "Most of the wallabies go to Asia and are then distributed from there."
Mr O'Brien said the trade in certain Asian countries raised concerns that wallabies were seen as novelty pets.
And he raised concern that with the majority living in apartments, the mammals that grace Australia's wide-open spaces are destined to live out their days in cramped cages.
"People try to treat them like dogs and keep them in rooms but it's just wrong," Mr O'Brien said.
"Quite often we get complaints from Australians who are travelling overseas and contact us to complain about what they see."
His concerns were backed by the Australian Wildlife Protection Council, which is worried people who get the mammals as pets have little idea how to properly care for them.
"A lot of them don't know how to look after wildlife and they have no idea about their dietary needs," president Maryland Wilson said.
"This has been highlighted by the case of Tyson, which is so sad. His muscles have deteriorated so badly that he is really just waiting to die."
Register your disgust about Tyson's treatment. Have your say on our blog or email the Canadian High Commissioner Michael Leir at this address: email@example.com or post your comment here.
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