Exotic Animals as Pets: The Debate
In 2014, worldwide star Justin Bieber was prosecuted for sneaking his pet monkey ‘Mally’ into Europe from his private jet. The star posted many pictures with the monkey prior to the prosecution showing off his new exotic delight. Michael Jackson was also well known for owning a chimpanzee named Bubbles, who Primatologist’s argue was beaten and abused. But its not just the filthy rich and famous who can and have been getting their hands on the likes of these animals, ranging from monkeys to the even more bizarre like pet polar bears. A craze has been swooping nations such as America and the UK in particular, and its owning animals who are used to being free in the wild, and they are known as the exotic.
Exotic animals in the UK
Now within the UK, we are undoubtedly big lovers of our pets, with dogs taking up the greatest percentage within households – 24% and cats coming in second (which I’m sure they’ll all hate), nestling themselves in 18% of all households. But increasingly, there has been a desire for the more rare. Exotic animals such as reptiles, birds, mammals and amphibians are the most commonly kept, however the likes of primates and big cats are worryingly on the rise.
Okay, so it must also be discussed that some of these animals were taken from the wild in a time of need, whether they might have been suffering from illness, loss of home or just general difficulty. But surely this is their natural life processes, or this suffering is actually from humans in the first place? More effort should be put into not letting these animals suffer from our damages in the first place. These wild animals have evolved to only live in the habitats they are born into, therefore putting them into homes with humans where they lack the space in need and the interaction with other animals they require is highly dangerous to their quality of life.
Danger to humans
Imagine it the other way round, animals are ruling the earth and are able to speak. We as humans have a brain, a body and a conscience but no voice to express our thoughts feelings or emotions. The animals then believe it is their right to just take you out of your own free will for their own enjoyment. Doesn’t seem so acceptable now does it?
Wild animals, and agreeably so, often are found to lash out to their owners, rejecting the life they lead and hurting humans in the process. But can you blame them when its their only form of protection and communication of their unhappiness?
Across the world, many incidents have been reported of exotic animals being held as pets, who have seriously injured or harmed their owner, other humans and other animals. For example in 2007, an escaped pet tiger viciously mauled a dog to death and later itself was shot to death by a local Sheriff. If the owner hadn’t of been keeping this wild animal in the first place, two animals deaths could have been prevented. Thousands of other cases have been reported, where adults and children have been mauled by tigers, bitten by monkeys and asphyxiated by snakes.
Many exotic animals are also carriers of zoonotic diseases, such as Herpes B, Monkey pox, rabies and bird flu. Introducing diseases like this into your homes can let them spread like wildfire across families and communities.
Laws governing Exotic Animals
For the UK, there are two laws regarding the keep and protection of exotic and wild animals. One is the European Protected Species Act which bans the keeping of any animal on the list of protected species, unless you can prove that it was born in this country in captivity, because they are endangered.
The Dangerous Wild Animals Act bans the keeping of any animal on the act without a zoo license, pet shop license or dangerous wild animal license which are all quite hard to obtain. A vet must visit your premises and inspect whether the animal will be fit for living in the conditions you provide.
But these rules and regulations are often ignored and wild animals are easily traded and sold under the radar. Exotic animals can be easily accessed from the internet, from newspaper advertisements and even in pet stores, often illegally with a back of the shop job. Whilst many are bred for the sale of these animals for high demand, others have also been captured straight from the wild, stripped from their habitats and families. Shockingly, between 5,000 and 7,000 tigers are kept as pets which is more than exists in the wild in the whole world. We as humans are snatching these animals from their natural environments, where they are adapted to live in, to keep for ourselves for our own satisfaction and enjoyment. I personally don’t see the logic in it, do you?
For more information, click here to read an article from the BBC about the exotic Pet industry.
Keep an eye out for my next blog post about animals being kept in captivity in zoos within the UK.