A staggering 8,000 entries have been received from primary school students in a State-wide poetry competition to promote caring for animals.
Category winners and finalists received prizes and were commended in a ceremony at Perth Zoo today.
Minister for Education and responsible for the Zoo, Kay Hallahan, said the competition encouraged students to care for their pets and native wildlife.
"Caring for pets develops students' sense of responsibility about other animals and the environment," she said.
"It is important that young people understand pets are not a temporary toy but a long-term responsibility requiring lots of attention and care.
"Abandoned or unwanted pets pose a major threat to native animals as they prowl in bushland. In fact, feral cats are estimated to wipe out millions of native animals each year."
Mrs Hallahan said pets played an important part in the physical fitness and emotional well-being of many people.
"Through the competition, students will be taught that animals, whether native wildlife or pets, are a source of great enjoyment for many people, but need to be treated with respect," she said.
· Jurien District High School Year 4 student Amy Lawrence for her poem 'Bat Chant' (Year 1 - 4 category); and
· Wembley Primary School Year 5 student Rebecca Giggs for her poem 'The Flying Fruit Fox' (Year 5 - 7 category).
Winners received a cash prize of $100 each and books for their school libraries to the value of $100.
Grovelands Primary School Year 6 students performed their class entry 'The Animal Lover Rap' at the presentation ceremony.