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Is Precisely Where They Should Stay!


By Jennifer Robinson

Keeping wild animals as pets can be appealing. Their beauty and uniqueness, as well as the prestige of owning such an animal, can be extremely tempting. Adding to the attraction, of owning wild animals, is the popularity of wildlife owners on social media sites that seem to attract hundreds of thousands of followers. These chronological day-by-day posts give the illusion that ownership of wild animals is nothing short of an exciting, fun-filled life that you, too, could have.  However, it is important to remember that keeping a wild animal as a pet is associated with many potential problems, including legal and ethical issues. 


What Defines an Animal as Wild or Exotic?

  • Found in nature

  • Has lived for thousands of years without direct human influence

  • Evolved behaviors and adaptations

  • Successful in surviving in their own complex environments

  • Examples include (but are not limited to) monkeys, tigers, parrots, big cats, reptiles, snakes, foxes, lemurs, raccoons and squirrels


Wild Animal Behaviors:

  • An evolutionary marvel of reactions and instincts

  • Exhibit strong will

  • Can never be tamed in the domesticated sense  

  • Strongly affected by any source of stimulation

  • Attempts to control the animal’s actions become a source of agitation

  • The fact that you raised the wild animal or that it was born in captivity -
    does not domesticate it

  • Their social needs are generally unknown

  • As the animal matures, the need for a mother ends and the instinctual behavior of the adult animal replaces the dependent behavior of the baby or juvenile 


Ethical Issues:

  • Appropriate care for wild animals requires considerable expertise/training

  • Providing appropriate and humane care; meeting this responsibility of care for wild animals is usually impossible-invariably it is the animal that suffers

  • Recognizing medical problems for the untrained individual/owner is difficult

  • Finding a vet with wild animal expertise in your area could be improbable

  • Suffering may begin with the capture of wild animals-many animals die on the way to the distributing entity

  • Wild pet trade threatens the very existence of many species causing extinction
    or endangered status

  • Pet trade has had a significant negative impact on wild populations
    of many species

  • Can pose a danger to human health and safety through disease and parasites

  • Wild animals can never be domesticated or tamed - the risk of major injury or even death is ALWAYS present

  • Wild animals by nature are self-sufficient and fare best without human interference

  • Released/escaped wild animals can become an invasive species that compete
    with or cause 
    extinction of native species (see photo to right)


Legal Issues:

  • Potential dangers and liabilities

  • Lawsuits filed on owners due negligence that results in harm or death of individuals

  • Fines for possessing such animals

  • Prohibit of ownership, ILLEGAL by state laws, county and city ordinances 


The Unexpected:

  • The cost of purchase price, food, enclosures

  • Damage to home, furniture and possessions

  • 24/7 supervision and 365 days of care for a duration of 10-15 years

  • Finding appropriate animal sitters 

  • Finding a veterinarian who can accommodate or accept your wild
    animal for treatment

hover on photos to learn more

These illegally trafficked leopard

and tiger heads make up one of the macabre sights at the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository, a warehouse in Denver, Colorado, that houses illegal wildlife products. 



Carla Nash

before and after

being mauled

by a pet



Over the past 30 years, these big snakes (including both the Boa and Python) have been bought and sold domestically and internationally. Pet owners often take these snakes into their homes and find that they cannot accommodate them as they grow. When the snakes get too big, owners often release them into the wild (i.e.: Florida Everglades), where they prey on endangered species. Under the Lacey Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to stop constrictor serpent imports into the country

and even ban transport between states.

Until recently, few people understood how potentially tragic it can be to own a wild animal as a pet. Instead of perpetuating the sale of wild/exotic pets, one might consider donating to a wild life sanctuary, zoo or wild life advocacy group. This would enable you the opportunity to protect wild life as opposed to endangering them. This action, in turn, gifts future generations the same opportunity to fall in love with, learn from and safeguard wild animals. Becoming a protector of wild life, whether through donations or by advocating for them, has far-reaching and everlasting benefits that largely outweigh the momentary satisfaction of possessing one.

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