Making sure that you de-stress for finals is important, sure. For a whole month three days before your tests, you’re nonstop studying. It’s hard! But prepping for the dreaded exams is temporary—and usually followed by a long vacation. 🏖
What’s more distressing than finals—and not temporary—is the life endured by animals used in petting zoos. Yet some universities let these cruel businesses hold “encounters” on their campuses in an attempt to help students de-stress—thus subjecting the animals to a lifetime of stress and trauma.
Forcing animals to endure a never-ending cycle of stressful transport, unfamiliar environments, irregular feeding and watering schedules, mishandling, and crowds of strangers is not fair to them. And it’s unsafe for students: Many people have been bitten or mauled by animals in petting zoos and countless others have become sick—and some have died—after contracting diseases from them.
While connecting with animals can be calming and fulfilling, there are humane ways to do that—bringing petting zoos to campus isn’t one of them. And there are countless ways to de-stress without involving animals at all. We can’t stress it enough: Don’t try to unwind by exploiting animals. Instead, try these relaxing, safe, and humane options:
1. Take a yoga class (but not the kind that exploits goats).
Follow a yoga video in your dorm, gather some friends to practice outdoors in nature, or head over to a studio. You can usually find discounted rates or even free weeklong passes to local studios on social discount sites.
You can use an app for guidance, seek out a studio that offers guided meditations in a group setting, or just meditate on your own. Studies show that meditation is highly effective and beneficial.
3. Visit a national park, forest reserve, or botanical garden.
Nothing beats the rejuvenating effects of getting some fresh air outdoors, where you can camp, admire flowers and other plants, take a hike, have a picnic, spot birds and other small animals in their natural habitat, etc. It’s a hard thing to mess up.
4. Explore a museum.
Learning while browsing artifacts, anyone? Taking a leisurely stroll through a beautiful building is a great way to take your mind off finals.
5. See a show.
Let it all out while singing and dancing at a concert; relax in a dark, air-conditioned movie theater; or be dazzled by an animal-free circus.
6. Watch a high-quality nature documentary on Netflix.
Planet Earth and Blue Planet are mind-bogglingly awesome and offer a great perspective by reminding viewers that some animals face challenges way harder than finals. You can also find online video streams that show animals in the wild.
7. Visit your local open-admission animal shelter.
Help local animals in open-admission shelters who are waiting for permanent homes. And while you connect with these loving animals, you can see firsthand the importance of adopting instead of buying.
8. Make some vegan treats.
Baking and cooking can have therapeutic effects. Not only do you get to take your mind off finals while you create, you also get to enjoy the delicious finished product—and you can even share with your friends! #ActualBrowniePoints
9. Connect with animals at a farm sanctuary.
Many humans have an innate love for animals, and connecting with those at sanctuaries is a good way to be reminded of the reasons we shouldn’t eat, wear, or otherwise exploit them. The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) has rigorous standards of sanctuary management and animal care for its members. GFAS-accredited facilities never breed animals or use them in commercial activities.
10. Visit a water park or animal-free theme park.
A combination of Vitamin D and H2O is the easiest recipe for success when it comes to de-stressing. Splashing in the sunshine with friends at a water park is pure, unadulterated fun—and we can never have too much of that. Or, have a good time checking out an animal-free theme park.
Trying to de-stress for finals never needs to be done at the expense of someone else. If you catch wind that your school plans to host a petting zoo on campus, e-mail [email protected] so that we can help you get the cruel plans canceled and replaced with a humane, ethical option.