The question is: Is it real love? Or just the desire to be special? And I mean by this, the process that ends up in the ownership of exotic animals. Everyone knows of the recent tragedy in Zanesville, Ohio. This event showed everything that is wrong with the trade, breeding, and ownership of exotic animals. It should be obvious that owning that 300 pound tiger, or a 400 pound lion is NOT anything close to having a dog. Dogs have had thousands of years to adapt to, and with, humans, lions haven't! An exotic animal which has been hand-fed doesn't guarantee domesticity, and there is no way of fully knowing how the animal is going to react to unexpected stimuli, especially once now in the care of a non-professional. Exotic animals hate being caged or confined, and close quarters make for an unhappy 'pet.' In choosing an exotic animal for a pet, the motives are frequently unclear. Is it love, or the desire to appear special.
I believe that (exotic) animal smuggling and breeding is cruel, and it seems that in this questionable trade, the welfare of the animal seems almost trivial when compared to the lucrative rewards of the business. During the risky and hazardous business of smuggling, many animals die from stress or a severely traumatized. Additionally, many exotic animals belong to endangered or almost extinct species, and placement in private zoos, estates, or natural reserves is detrimental to survival rates. While it is widely claimed that most of the exotic animals in the United States are bred from animals already here (and this a statement I doubt), stricter laws and regulations need to be implemented to stop this practice. Whether 2nd or 3rd generation captive-bred, exotic animals belong in their natural habitat, and no exceptions accepted.
Having an exotic animal, such as a big cat, calls for wide open space, astronomical food expenses, costly vet expenses, and many, many other requirements. Some prospective owners commit themselves--to what can best be described as a foolish fantasy-- and when faced the inability to properly care for their 'charges,' act irresponsibly. In the Zanesville, Ohio incident, a distraught owner took his own life, but not before releasing his menagerie into the neighborhood surrounding his reserve. In order to prevent the loss of human lives, the authorities resorted to live ammunition after tranquilizers failed to slow the escaped animals. In the carnage that ensued, 49 animals were killed, including 17 lions, six black bears, a pair of grizzles, two wolves, a baboon, and 18 Bengal tigers. How shocking that almost-extinct animals could be so quickly annihilated. Why is it, that animals continue to suffer as a result of our irresponsibility, whether in incidents like the one above, through accidents, or systematic abuse (and here the statistics support my assertion). To put down an animal because of our irresponsibility, stupidity, stubbornness, unwillingness to respect the boundaries, indeed the laws of Nature, makes me wonder: Is this love?
The smuggling, breeding, and captivity of exotic animals needs is cruel and selfish. Ecology zoos, natural parks, protected reserves, and animal sanctuaries are the best option for animals already in captivity (attempted domesticity), and stricter regulations need to be enacted to dissuade private ownership, and harsh penalties for the trade in smuggled animals. The continued 'play' with big pets is both dangerous and deadly, irrespective of morality. Common sense should cause us to consider the future of the planet's wildlife if we continue to plunder our resources. Where is the love, I wonder.
Please make a difference by speaking out against the cruelty of animals.
David Ahen-bec Fuentes