Yoplait Cups Causing Life-Threatening Situations For Some Wildlife

Skunks, squirrels and other wildlife are getting their heads caught in Yoplait yogurt containers, and some people want the design to change.

skunk with head stuck in cup
Via LiveLeak Channel/YouTube 
A skunk in Arizona needed help from police to get free from a cup stuck on its head.

Humans and wildlife have an up and down relationship, but who would have guessed that yogurt containers would cause controversy. The issue is that wildlife, particularly skunks and squirrels, are getting their heads caught in the containers when they try to eat any leftover yogurt in Yoplait containers. This is according to the organization Wildlife Emergency Services, a nonprofit with a mailing address in Moss Landing, California, that works to improve emergency response to sick or imperiled wildlife. 

The problem, according to Wildlife Emergency Services, is the design of the Yoplait containers, which make it almost impossible for animals to get their heads out once they stick their heads in. In a Change.org petition that began two years ago, the organization states that the problem began in 1978 when the Yoplait containers first appeared. It also states that Yoplait was made aware of the problem and added a warning on the container in 1998 to crush it before disposal, but the design remained the same.

This is not the first time specific plastic food containers have been singled out for inadvertently harming wildlife. In 2002, an article in the Irish Times reported on McDonald’s McFlurry cups causing problems for the wild European hedgehog. Similar to the Yoplait cups, animals were putting their heads into the container to eat any remaining food, and were then unable to get the container off their head, which eventually caused death. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society spearheaded efforts to have McDonald’s change the design of the McFlurry cups. The European hedgehog population is rapidly declining in the United Kingdom, and death by McFlurry cup was an added problem. McDonald’s responded to the call to redesign in late 2008.

Thanks to recent articles, the topic of Yoplait cups being deadly to wildlife has been trending on Facebook. Comments on a Huffington Post article about the topic posted to the Wildlife Emergency Services Facebook page have been mixed. Many people pointed out that the problem is not so much the cup design as the people who litter or fail to dispose of them in closed trash bins. Others believe the design should be changed. Others are puzzled because Yoplait is being singled out instead of all plastic food containers being blamed for wildlife deaths.

In a video posted to YouTube in May 2014, Yoplait addressed the question of redesigning the cups. The company urges that all plastic food containers be crushed before disposal in order to protect wildlife. 

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