Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Wild animals should not be pets...

This just burns my ass.

Cat News

First off, it takes hundreds of generations to successfully domesticate a wild animal. Dogs have been around for 10,000 years, and yet they still attack on occasion, and sometimes without warning, so what makes an owner of a bottle fed caracal think they have the answer to unprompted attacks? Second, exactly how much of an animal lover are you if you believe it's okay to cage a wild animal, denying the animal of its natural habitat and full range of behaviours? Finally, and most absurdly, contrary to the exotic pet owner's claim, exotic pet breeding programs do not help conservation efforts.

For example, there are more than 7,000 tigers in North America owned privately. There are only 5,000-7,000 native species in the wild. The tigers that these so called conservationists breed are hybrids. They are unreleasable. We are not experiencing a tiger shortage. We are experiencing a loss of indigenous, genetically intact species, such as the Siberian Tiger.

Furthermore, the trade in exotic animals has been responsible more than half of the species depletion crisis in the wild, including the pet trade and the trade in Traditional Chinese Medicine products (which can contain the parts of different types of animals). The demand fuels the likelihood of illegal poaching by enticing people living in dire poverty to do the crimes, while Westerners enjoy the pets and the products. If people stopped buying exotic fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, along with products that contain endangered animal parts, 80% of the problem would be solved.

The rest is up to each nation and how they/we set out to protect wild spaces. If acreage is effectively protected, many species would also be protected, particularly the small mammals, insects, birds, and reptiles, because the bigger the land space, the greater number of species will be encompassed and therefore protected.

There have been some great conservation efforts in China and Africa, which have been pretty successful in establishing and protecting wildlife preservations. I will find some examples and post those soon.

As for personal experience, I have been to half a dozen roadside zoos and private menageries and can tell you that exotic pet ownership is not humane or safe. It is nothing more than a way to make money. Most people who own end up breeding and selling, or get overwhelmed and dump the pets somewhere (which is another HUGE problem for native ecosystems). It's like some kind of sick, redneck club. I have seen tigers kept behind chain link fencing, monkeys in basement cages, without natural light or behavioural enrichment, and foxes in back rooms, the stench of urine and feces so bad I could hardly breathe.

The only thing we have going for us now are the few municipal bylaws that prevent exotic pet ownership. This is why it pains me to hear other animal advocates condoning exotic pet ownership as an expression of a true concern for animal protection. Nothing could be further from the truth.



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