Adopting pets for life

March 26, 2023

All animals, including lizards, geckos, and turtles, deserve a chance to live harmoniously and one of the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department’s Rehome Scheme partners is working hard to give the abandoned ones a second chance by rescuing and finding them suitable homes after helping potential pet adopters to understand that ownership is lifetime commitment.


Meet Mojito, a type of lizard called a blue-tongued skink. This amazing creature can be seen up close and personal at the Science Museum’s Biodiversity Workshop, Amphibians & Reptiles Encounter. Participants of the workshop have so much fun interacting with the animal ambassador that is used to educate the public about the species.


Six-year-old Issac Yip was very excited to interact with this little creature and even hoped to keep it as a pet because it looks so cute.


Mojito was an illegally imported animal confiscated by the department in 2021 and handed over to the Hong Kong Society of Herpetology Foundation for care.


The foundation currently shelters around 200 unique animals, half of which were once abandoned on the streets or left behind by their owners.


The other half were confiscated by the department for being illegally imported and subsequently handed over to the foundation for care and adoption.



Hong Kong Society of Herpetology Foundation Animal Adoption Committee member Victor Wong explained that one of their key goals is help potential pet owners understand that caring for such animals is a lifelong responsibility.


“Often times, people do not consider the long-term implications of keeping a pet. When these pets grow old, they are often abandoned. It is an incredibly difficult task for an old pet to find a new home. If they ultimately pass away in a shelter, it is not fair to them.”


Mr Wong said those who are thinking of adopting should not only think carefully about their home environment, but also events that will happen after the present time.


“We must consider our own future plans and whether we can provide a suitable home for these animals before raising them.”


The circumstances behind Blue, a crested gecko that lost its tail, is one prime example. It was left behind by its previous owner due to his partner’s pregnancy.


“I think it is a pity. Their lifespan is only about 10 years. It may have already passed a half or one-third of its life. Now it needs to change its environment because of this reason, which is not good for it. On the positive side, the abandoner handed it over to us instead of abandoning it on the street,” Mr Wong pointed out.


Blue is looking for a new home now. Because it is quite timid, the foundation will select an adopter who does not have other pets. This way, Blue can adjust to its new environment quickly.


Second chance

Tam Jie is a red-eared slider, an aquatic turtle that was rescued after being found on a highway. She not only had a cracked shell and broken bones, but also suffered from a maggot infection.


Mr Wong recalled that when Tam Jie was first rescued, apart from its wounded state, its maggot infection was dangerously close to its heart.


“We did not give up. She underwent five to six surgeries and took more than a year to recover slowly. Now, these wound locations will not grow turtle shells. There are scars, but the wounds have healed.”


Mr Wong emphasised that some people know little about keeping pets. For example, they do not know that the size of red-eared sliders will grow larger and larger with each passing year, and as a result, those who adopt such turtles will need more space to house them properly.


"We receive a lot of large red-eared sliders. When they are young, they are only as big as a five dollar coin, but when they grow up, their average size will be larger than a human’s face. Some people do not have enough space and choose to abandon them."


Support adoption

Mr Wong added that he hopes those who keep animals will be willing to care for them when they get older and not abandon them. Furthermore, he encourages potential pet owners to consider adopting animals and provide them with a warm and loving home where they can feel cherished.

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