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May 21, 2015 Comments (0) All Other Stories, ECOpinion

ECOPINION: Exotic Animals Belong in Wild

By Jamie Schmid

Want to see my pet wallaby? What about my new lemur? Nowadays, this isn’t actually too bizarre to hear. Just Google “exotic animals for sale,” and the options are endless. In fact, if you go to exoticanimalsforsale.net, you can purchase an African crested porcupine from Texas! And guess what? They ship nationwide.

Having exotic animals for pets has become so much of a trend that more tigers are now kept as pets than exist in the wild. But while it might be fascinating to live with one of these animals, our personal enjoyment must come second to the wellbeing of these exotic animals. They’re just not meant to be kept as pets. There’s a reason it took thousands of years to domesticate wolves into dogs! Exotic animals don’t do well with people– period.

Here are my three main problems with exotic animals as pets:

Animals suffer

Slow lorises have their front teeth removed or cut before being sold as pets.

Slow lorises have their front teeth removed or cut before being sold as pets.

Exotic animals don’t just happen upon one’s doorstep like a stray cat. Most of the time, they are captured in a traumatic way, locked in a crate, and then shipped for miles upon miles. Even when they’re settled into their homes, they’re often forced into crates for safety purposes.

Wild animals also can’t get the exercise they need in human settings. Walking your newly purchased African cat on a leash is not enough. Not only will you get weird looks, but a stroll around the block just won’t cut it for an animal that’s meant to roam free. It’s a sad life compared to the one they could be living in their natural environments. And their human owners are the direct cause of their pain and suffering.

Case Study: Parrots have their beak and feet taped before being stuffed into tubes that are easily concealed in luggage for shipping.

Animals revolt

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We can’t expect a tiger to be happy in a small house when it’s used to miles of open land. Under such stress and trauma it’s no wonder exotic animals often lash out at their owners, leading to serious injuries or even death. The Exotic Animal Incident Database reported 543 human injuries and 75 deaths from exotic animal attacks between 1990 and 2012, with some seriously sad examples. Incidents like these can easily be prevented. It’s common sense: don’t keep wild animals in your house.

Case study: In 2011 in Odessa, TX, a 4-year-old boy was mauled by a 12-year-old pet mountain lion his aunt kept in her backyard, resulting in lacerations, puncture wounds and bites on his face. The mountain lion had to be euthanized.

 Animals have diseases

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All the time, we’re faced with the possibility of salmonella poisoning from eggs, ice cream and sushi. Why add another health threat onto that list! According to the ASPCA, at least one in three reptiles harbors salmonella and shigella. And 90 percent of imported green iguanas carry a certain strain of intestinal bacteria. Beyond these, exotic animals can also carry tuberculosis, ringworm, rabies, and monkey box.

Case study: In 2003, monkey pox broke out in the Midwest, after being spread by Gambian rats housed at a prairie dog dealer in Illinois. The rats had been shipped from an exotic pet dealer in Texas. The outbreak infected 71 people and was the first time the disease was seen in the Western Hemisphere. This type of situation may seem unrealistic, but it could happen around your neighborhood.

Exotic animals are beautiful, but that does not give us the right to keep them as pets. Ryan Gosling is beautiful– a rare specimen– but nevertheless he must roam free.

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