BY ERIK MEDINA
At least once in your life, you’ve probably thought about owning an exotic pet, perhaps a fox, a monkey, a snake or even a tiger.
Don’t lie: Everyone wants a tiger. They’re ferocious yet magical creatures.
Let’s hope you eventually got over it.
Unfortunately, some individuals actually end up owning an exotic pet.
The exotic animal trade is a multibillion-dollar industry. These wild animals don’t do well in captivity no matter how much people try to domesticate them.
This endangers both the owner and the animal.
Many buyers want exotic animals when they are young because they’re “cute.” However, the owner fails to recognize how much maintenance the animal needs. When it reaches adulthood, it’s often abandoned.
If not abandoned, the exotic pet may be euthanized or forced to live in harsh conditions. Sanctuaries try to help control the situation by housing many animals, but few have sufficient funds to maintain them.
In some cases, the animals escape their enclosures. They tend to attack other animals or people, typically owners, out of instinct or in self-defense. These attacks can sometimes be fatal.
In a 2011 Ohio incident, 56 animals escaped their cages. The animals included tigers, lions, bears, wolves and a baboon. Investigators later concluded that the owner released them. Of those animals, 49 were killed and the rest captured.
Some exotic pets carry diseases such as herpes B, monkeypox and salmonellosis. Experts say 90 percent of reptiles shed salmonella in their feces.
Do we not remember how the black plague started? Migrating rats with fleas spread the illness around Europe. An estimated 75-200 million people died.
Owning an exotic pet should be plain-out illegal. Leave animals in their natural habitats. That’s where they belong, that’s where they’re happy. They don’t deserve such cruelty.
Instead of exotic pets, help needy animals in your city. Visit a rescue shelter, a humane society or even a pound. Adopt a dog or cat if, and only if, you’re truly ready.
Erik Medina has two wonderful dogs at home. They may not be exotic, but each is one-of-a-kind.