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Joe B.
  • Joe B.
  • Mckinney, TX
  • United States

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Large number of wild animals as pets?

My daughter and I recently started volunteering at a wildlife rescue and education center for big cats. No, I’m not talking about over weight house cats but lions, tigers, cougars, cheetahs, panthers, etc. During our orientation, I was surprised to learn there are more tigers kept as pets in the United States (~12,000) than there are in the wild (~4,000). Statistics from the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition (cwapc.org) indicate there are up to 20,000 big cats in private ownership in the U.S. alone.

These animals are typically purchased as kittens without much consideration for their needs as they grow and become adults. Most end up dead or at a rescue facility where they remain for the rest of their lives. These animals can’t be introduced to the wild due to their exposure to humans and inability to hunt and care for themselves. Plus, their habitats are shrinking due to human encroachment.

Reputable rescue facilities spade and neuter the animals they take-in. This puts a small dent in the growing problem.

I’m wondering if there are any innovative ideas about how this problem and similar problems with other wild species (primates, large snakes/reptiles, etc) could be solved.

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  • Jan 14 2012: Ideally there would be a categoriztion made of animals which can and cannot be kept as pets and have large fines against those who are not following the rule (those without the correct licensing, enclosures and consent ofcourse).

    The only issue is that people who choose to own such animals are quite unlikely to care about the law and/or have incredibly poor judgement and foresight anyway, often disabiling the ability to prevent or educate.them away from their choice.

    Perhaps with the larger animals, a method of an internal tagging/tracking device would be possible. It would make it impossible for an animal (wild or otherwise) to be taken in as a pet, atleast for long.

    Jokingly, we could make it clear that the person who owns/wants to own such an animal will need to be covered in Syrup , tied up and thrown into the cage of a fully grown member of the species. I don't think many people would be inclined to own tigers in that circumstance...or domestic pet cats for that matter.
    (Death by cats is one of the worst ways to go, I imagine)
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      Joe B.

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      Jan 17 2012: Another issue is what would law enforcement do with the animals they seize. If they keep them alive, the cost of feeding and maintaining them would be very high compared to a domestic animal. If they shoot or euthanize the animals, in many cases they would be killing endangered species and would face quite a bit of backlash from activist groups. These aren't animals you can just find a family to adapt or a zoo to take-in nor are they illegal drugs that can be disposed of.
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      Jan 17 2012: To prohibit plants or animals for keeping or import isn't a good thing to do. They will become treasures that people will pay for with a lot of money. It will provoke a gold rush on thosr plants and animals against any risk.

      Regulating is the only way. People that want to keep them need to learn all about that species and provide all necessities to get a licence.
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        Joe B.

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        Jan 19 2012: I like the licencing idea Frans. Banning the import of these animals (and plants) would only lead to higher prices and higher profits for those outside the country breeding and sourcing these living things. Renewable licences would generated funds that could be used to fund rescue facilities, zoos and research efforts that would benefit the animals and well I guess the plants too.