Why People Should Not Be Allowed to Keep Exotic Animals as Pets

polar bear petWild nature is home for hundreds of thousands of species, many of which are exotic and/or close to extinction. Throughout recent decades, humanity has made a solid effort in order to prevent the extinction of these animals, protect the habitat of these species, and somehow minimize the negative consequences of the presence of humans. However, there is another problem that has not been paid enough attention to—this problem is keeping exotic animals as pets. Although owners of exotic animals might believe they are not doing anything bad, in fact such a practice should be prohibited due to a number of reasons.

Almost no one, except perhaps the richest people, can provide a wild animal with all its necessary conditions. Exotic animals have unique needs. For example, wild tigers need a large territory to roam around in. A venomous Monocled cobra, which can be legally bought in a number of states for a puny $100, will repeatedly strike when feeling in danger. A bobcat can hunt a prey eight times bigger than itself. Chimpanzees and other primates require a lot of space for climbing, and sea mammals need vast water basins to swim freely. The examples are numerous. These needs require specific living conditions—or at least housing structures. Can an average American citizen afford keeping an exotic pet? Not just for a year or two, but for 25 or 50 years? Just for an example, the annual cost of keeping a tiger (in a cage) approaches $6,000. Clearly, being a keeper of a wild animal is beyond the capabilities of an average citizen (National Geographic).

If the previous paragraph did not persuade you, consider the danger of biological contamination. According to different estimates, at least one in three reptiles (which are among the most popular exotic pets—iguanas, for example) is a host for salmonella and shigella bacteria; the overall percentage with salmonella is probably up to 90 percent. According to data provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 90 percent of imported green iguanas carry unfamiliar strains of intestinal bacteria. Other species are not safer. About 25 percent of both imported and domestically-bred macaques are reported to have had the herpes B virus. Among other diseases carried and transported by wild animals, one should mention such infections as chlamydia, yaba virus, giardia, tuberculosis, measles, marburg virus, hepatitis A, campylobacteriosis, rabies, streptothricosis, and a lot of other malicious microorganisms, including worms (ASPCA).

In addition, wild animals can pose a direct physical threat to their owners. During the last 10 years, there have been dozens of attacks committed by captive big cats, such as lions and tigers; in one of the saddest incidents, a tiger killed a three-year-old boy, who was its guardian’s grandson. In another case, a Bengal tiger has bitten off an arm of a four-year-old boy. Since the beginning of the century, four people were hunted down (and killed) by wolf hybrids. This is not to mention the cases when wild animals attacked other domesticated pets—cats, dogs, and so on (PETA).

Along with well-known ecological problems—such as the extinction of species, or the destruction of rainforests, there is also another significant issue: people tend to keep exotic wild animals as pets. This is a bad practice, since wild animals require unique conditions that an average American cannot afford; exotic animals carry and transmit exotic diseases, which can pose a threat to owners; and there were numerous incidents when a captivated wild animal attacked its owner, or members of their families. All this is solid proof in favor of the claim that wild exotic animals should not be kept as pets.

References

“Wild at Home: Exotic Animals as Pets.” Nat Geo WILD. N.p., 03 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.

“Exotic Animals as Pets.” ASPCA. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.

“Exotic Animals as ‘Pets'” PETA. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.

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