Toy Box, Toy Jungle, and live animals as toys

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Toy Box, Toy Jungle, and live animals as toys

Back in April, we told you about a chain of local toy stores–the Toy Box and the Toy Jungle–who were selling live frogs.  (Both are part of the same company.)  After pressure from the public, the Toy Box, as it is known in Kitsilano, dropped the frogs.  The other 3 stores, all Toy Jungles, continue  to sell these “EcoAquariums” despite receiving emails and phone calls from members and supporters of both Liberation BC and the Vancouver Humane Society.

EcoAquariums are 4 inch by 4 inch plastic cubes filled with water, gravel, a stick of bamboo, and 2 live aquatic frogs.  The company which manufactures them, Wild Creations, has been investigated by PETA, who discovered disgusting conditions: frogs in murky water filthy with feces and molted skin, rampant starvation which caused them to gnaw each others’ limbs off, and live frogs left on the floor or thrown in the trash to die.  Read more here.  You can also watch a video at PETA TV.

These aquatic frogs are meant to live in the cube for their entire lives; though sellers maintain that they can be moved to a larger container, doing so is far too complicated for the average person.

The Toy Box, for example, emphasized that their customers are informed that the frogs can be transferred to a new tank.   I don’t know whether the store also informs customers of the fact that you’d have to be an expert to transfer the frogs safely, or that the manufacturer doesn’t particularly recommend doing it in the first place.  For example, here is Wild Creations’ response to a customer on facebook who is curious as to whether she can put two sets of frogs together in a larger bowl:

…I recommend you add some sort of additional circulation support like a undergravel filter, to help circulate the water. Passive filtering like what is happening in a EcoAquarium rapidly becomes less efficient when water volumes increase… Eventually passive filtering isn’t enough, and additional mechanical filtering methods must be added to maintain a healthy enviroment. Our EcoAquariums were designed to operate within a very finite range of conditions, with just so much water volume, and just so much living gravel, that can create a balance of bio-activity that can sustain this many frogs & that many plants. Unfortunately, that balance cannot be easily expanded upon, not without additional mechanical support.

These “toys” do not usually live very long, and despite Wild Creations’ claim that they should survive for 3-5 years, they clearly aren’t expected to.   They only cost 20 or 25 dollars and are offered up as novelties to well-meaning but uninformed consumers who don’t possess the knowledge necessary to care for live animals.   A quick glance at the Wild Creations facebook page shows tons of comments from people whose frogs are dead or dying, as well as people who just don’t know how to deal with them at all.  Here are just a few of many examples:

  • I bought 2 new frogs…one is already dead. There is definitely something going on with the gravel or whatever…I am now down 6 frogs….I am afraid 7 won’t make it much longer.
  • One frog continues to get very large and the other frog got emancipated and died a slow death ending yesterday
  • I came in to my classroom this morning after the weekend and discovered that on of my frogs had died. He was floating in the middle of the tank upside down and his side was bulging out.  I was thinking that maybe he ate to much and his stomach ruptured? Very sad since these were the replacement frogs for the ones my cat ate over spring break.
  • Woke up this morning and one of our frogs was flipped over on its back. I tapped the cage adn it began to click but obviously it is dying a slow death…t looks super skippy, sortof collapsed… On the hunt for a single replacement today at my Hallmark store.

How embarrassing.  Wild Creations should be ashamed to be manufacturing EcoAquariums, and any store which continues to sell them should be as well.   But there’s good news: Brookstone, Target, Toys R Us, and Walgreens have all decided to stop carrying these tiny cubes, along with several other companies.  And so while it’s unfortunate that we still live in a society where animals are considered so disposable and unimportant that they can be sold alongside toys and candy, some companies are making a more compassionate choice.

Everything starts with you, though.  Vote with your dollar!  If you decide not to shop at a store, politely let them know that they’ve lost a customer, and why.



July 20, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I really feel for these confined, neglected animals. I only hope that any kids who are given these as gifts develop some sense compassion for their dead or dying ‘toys’. Thanks for the suffering in a box, Mom and Dad.

Live Animals as Toya – Environmental Ethics

October 25, 2011 at 12:13 am

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