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The Issue:

Animals – both domesticated (pets) and in the wild – are intermingled with our communities. Organizations such as animal shelters and rescues help find animals homes and manage overpopulation; veterinarians and public health departments protect human and animal health through disease monitoring and control using the One Health model; animal rehabilitation facilities, wildlife rescue centers, and zoos advocate for conservation of wildlife. The health and wellbeing of different (yet connected) animal populations depends a lot on the actions of humans, and they are at risk if we do not take steps to protect them. 


The Game Design Prompt:

Make a game that addresses the importance of being responsible animal advocates in our communities. Demonstrate the significance of animals in their respective ecosystems, and what would happen if they disappeared.


More than half of all infections people can get can be spread by animals

Over 1/3 of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades

Animal life is threatened by both natural disturbances (i.e. hurricanes, wildfires) and human disturbances (such as habitat destruction, pollution, and poaching)

67% of U.S. households own a pet

85% of Americans support animal protection


What is One Health?

One Health is the idea that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and our shared environment. Learn why One Health is important and how, by working together, we can achieve the best health for everyone.


Why is it important?

Humans are interacting with animals and the environment in new ways: Human populations are increasing and expanding into new geographic areas; climate change and land degradation are displacing animal populations and threatening healthy ecosystems; and international travel/trade has increased the speed and rate at which people and commodities are moving across planet earth


As a result, humans and animals are coming into contact more frequently, contributing to the spread of zoonotic diseases (diseases caused by germs that spread between people and animals). Common types of zoonotic diseases include: Rabies, Salmonella, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. In addition to zoonotic diseases, some common issues addressed through One Health include: Food safety, environmental contamination and more.

One Health effects everyone

A One Health approach to public health involves many experts working together to improve the health of people, animals — including pets, livestock, and wildlife — and the environment. Working together in key and requires communication, collaboration and coordination between experts from different sectors. Common types of professionals involved in One Health work include disease detectives, human healthcare providers, veterinarians, physicians, nurses, scientists, ecologists, and policy makers. However, One Health issues can affect everyone, from pet owners, travelers, and farmers to anyone who buys and eats food or drinks or swims in water.


Looking ahead to prevent outbreaks

Because animals share our vulnerability to certain diseases and they can sometimes serve as early warning signals of potential human outbreaks. Monitoring illnesses can be tracked to help keep humans and domestic and wild animals healthy. For example, the West Nile virus frequently appears in bird populations (causing them to die) before people in the same area get sick with the infection. 


Animals play an important role in our culture and families – the majority of households in the United States own at least one pet. Pets can enrich our lives and even improve our health through companionship, stress reduction, and increasing our physical activity. Although it is clear that the human-animal bond affects many aspects of life positively, animals can sometimes carry harmful germs that can make people sick.


The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to reduce risk associated with zoonotic diseases. Check-out the CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website to learn how to keep people, pets, and other animals (such as livestock and wildlife) safe and healthy.

Choose the right pet
Not all pets are right for all people. In addition to thinking about the pet’s needs, consider who will be around the pet at home. Talk to your veterinarian about choosing the right pet.


Keep your pet healthy
Keeping your pet healthy helps to keep YOU healthy. Make sure pets get a good diet, fresh water, shelter, and exercise – and every pet should receive life-long veterinary care. Also, remember to include your pets in your emergency preparedness plans so you can keep them safe and healthy in an emergency. (more on this below!)

Practice good hygiene
Washing your hands is one of the best ways to stay healthy around pets and can also protect you against other diseases. Always wash your hands after touching your pet; clean surfaces to avoid germs; clean-up after your pet after they go to the bathroom to avoid parasites like ringworm.


Supervise kids around pets
Always supervise young children around pets, even trusted family pets. Children, especially those 5 years of age and younger, can be at higher risk for pet-related illnesses because they often touch surfaces that may be contaminated, put objects in their mouths, and are less likely to wash their hands.

One of the most common ways to be an animal advocate is through adoption. Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is a resource for various stages in the pet ownership process to help ensure that your experience with animals (and their experience with you) is a healthy, safe, and successful one.

Critter Corner

The bonds we share with our pets are unique and one-of-a-kind. Those types of special connections do not only exist with dogs and cats though! Meet PetSpace’s animal ambassadors, highlighting small animals that also make great companions.


COVID-19 and Pets FAQ

The safety and well-being of pets and adoptable animals in the time of COVID-19 is a large concern. PetSpace has answered the most frequently asked questions about animals in our homes to help alleviate some of these worries.

In emergency situations, immediate action needs to be taken to ensure the health and safety of both domestic and wild animals. Rescue teams, animal shelters, volunteers, firefighters, and veterinarians all aid animals in crisis, ranging from local, contained emergencies to devastating natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, and tornadoes.

Adelaide wildlife rescuer Simon Adamczyk is seen with a koala rescued at a burning forest near Cape Borda on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia, January 7, 2020.   AAP Image/David Mariuz/via REUTERS    ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. AUSTRALIA OUT. NEW ZEALAND OUT.     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC2TAE94MSRU

When a natural disaster is coming, it’s essential to have lifesaving plans in place — including for your animal family members. Explore these resources to learn more about advocating for animals in crisis situations.

What You Can Do for Your Pets in an Emergency

Our pets enrich our lives in more ways than we can count. In turn, they depend on us for their safety and well-being. While we all hope that we will never be affected by emergency situations such as a house fire or flood, we still need to prepare for them. Planning ahead is key to keeping the animals you are responsible for safe in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency. Here are resources to help you do just that.


In recent years, wildfires have had devastating consequences in parts of the world – including Australia, Latin America and most recently, in California. Learn more about the role that animal rescue organizations play in saving pets, livestock and wildlife.

Video: Annenberg PetSpace – Bobcat Fire Animal Evacuation Support

Article: Animals Rescued From Australia’s Bushfires

Article: California Wildfire Forces Horses, Dogs, And People To Evacuate


Hurricanes are another natural disaster that can cause major damage resulting from high winds, storm surge and flooding. Having a plan – either evacuation or shelter in home – for both you and your animals (pets and livestock) is crucial for safety when a storm is approaching. Explore these resources to better understand how humans can support the safety of animals (pets, livestock and wildlife) during devastating storms.

Article: Oceanarium recalls rescue of wayward dolphins, sea lions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina

Article: Animal Rescues From Hurricane Harvey

Article: The PETS Act: Companion Animals Affected by Natural Disasters

The health and safety of animals outside our homes is just as important as the ones living inside them. 

Wildlife are under threat from many different kinds of human activities, from directly destroying habitat to spreading invasive species and disease. Most ecosystems are facing multiple threats. Each new threat puts additional stress on already weakened ecosystems and their wildlife. Some of the biggest threats to wildlife include – habitat loss, Climate Change, disease, pollution, invasive species and over exploitation. 

Tiger Trade Captivity

Losing even a single species can have disastrous impacts because the effects will be felt throughout the food chain. From providing cures to deadly diseases to maintaining natural ecosystems and improving overall quality of life, the benefits of preserving the world’s species are invaluable.

Together, we can learn how to peacefully coexist with wild animals and support their natural habitats.


Animal tagging, or biologging is when a data recording device is temporarily attached to wildlife to track animal’s behaviors and environmental conditions, such as sound, temperature, and air quality. Biologging is commonly used for conservation purposes, and is especially useful in remote regions where human presence is minimal. Click here to continue reading.


Wildlife Trade

The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade, threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains. Some examples of illegal wildlife trade are well known, such as poaching elephants for ivory. However, countless other species are similarly overexploited, from marine turtles to timber trees. Wildlife trade escalates into a crisis when an increasing proportion is illegal and unsustainable—directly threatening the survival of many species in the wild. Click here to continue reading.

Wildlife Case Studies

• Indiana Herp Atlas

In the Midwest, these turtles are State Endangered in Wisconsin and also in Indiana, where populations have decreased in sand prairies, in some cases to the point of extirpation. In Iowa they are considered State Threatened. Agriculture and other land use changes have greatly reduced Indiana populations of the Ornate Box Turtle. These turtles are uncommon in cultivated areas, and pesticides are suspected in contributing to population declines.

• Live Science Guinea Pig Facts

While domesticated Guinea pigs are no longer found in the wild, they do have some cousins, also called Guinea pigs, that live in the wild in South America and are considered “Critically Endangered”.

• Why Marine Mammals Become Stranded

The rocky and sandy shoreline is part of the natural habitat for a seal or a sea lion. Healthy animals come ashore to rest, get warm, or to breed and have their pups, but sometimes they are injured or have other health problems.

Take Action to Protect Wildlife Today!

  • Know your impact: What is your carbon footprint? Find out and learn how you can lessen your impact on the planet.
  • Be pollinator-friendly: You can help save butterflies, bees, birds, and other pollinators by planting local plants and milkweed in your garden at home and encouraging your neighborhood to do the same.
  • Explore volunteer opportunities with local wildlife rehabilitation centers in your community.
  • Spread the Word: Help raise awareness through social media and community education.

Red List of Threatened Species

The world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species.


Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA)

A non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation.


World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

A global organization whose mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.


The Humane Society

Nation’s largest animal protection organization. Since 1954, they’ve been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs.


National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

America’s oldest and largest conservation organization that works across the country to unite Americans from all walks of life in giving wildlife a voice. A great resource to learn about the threats to wildlife in the US.


Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI)

A non-profit research and education organization that is gathering, funding and sharing scientific research to demonstrate the positive health impacts of companion animals.

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How to Find a Wildlife Rehabilitator

A wildlife rehabilitator is a trained professional who treats and cares for sick, injured or orphaned wild animals with the goal of releasing healed animals back to their natural habitats in the wild. Get help for orphaned, sick or injured wildlife using this state-by-state listing.


An educator’s guide on teaching biodiversity and related topics. More relevant toolkits and educator guides are available on the WWF website.

A guide for Earth’s scientific systems for adults and students grades 9 and up, presented by Annenberg Learner.

Environmental Science

Lesson plans and webinars with grade-level ratings. Resources cut across various wildlife topics.


Worksheet activity suitable for older grade levels and adults.