Exotic animals not meant to be pets

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.

Filed Under: InsightOpinion

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  1. Eric Roscoe says:

    Unfortunately, this editorial appears to be full of misinformation and propaganda, likely from known anti-pet groups. The reptile and exotic pet communities have become much more responsible and educated than before as far more animals have now become much more widely bred and available in captivity through generations of selective keeping and breeding. There isn’t anything wrong with selecting a healthy captive born pet from a knowledgeable and reputable source provided the proper amount of education and research is put forth beforehand, as with any pet. Don’t believe all of the misinformation from “animal rights” groups you may have came across. These groups raise millions of fraudulently raised dollars, but spend less than 1% of their budgets on local animal shelters (much more can be detailed on that in length).

    When it comes to salmonella and other zoonotic diseases, there is a small chance of contracting them, as with the keeping of any animal, domestic or exotic. Practicing and maintaining proper health & hygiene, as well as common sense handling can go a long way towards reducing zoonotic borne illnesses. When investigations are undertaken, it is evident that the majority of cases of salmonellosis result from the consumption of raw or under-cooked eggs, incorrectly handled or prepared poultry, pork and meat, and infected milk. At the most, no more than three percent of salmonella cases are estimated to have resulted from exposure to reptiles.

    The vast majority of the species in question are now widely and regularly bred in captivity for numerous generations, oftentimes in particular color and/or pattern variations known as “morphs”. These morphs and captive born counterparts lack the necessary characteristics for survival in the wild. All animals kept as a pet or for any purpose in captivity originated, at one point or another, from “wild” counterparts. Numerous examples of these animals providing additional and much needed entryways into many different fields of science through bio-mimicry, ex-situ breeding efforts for imperiled species from around the world, and raising knowledge and awareness, particularly when other opportunities may be more limited can all be mentioned at length as well.

    For more information, you can visit the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) at the link below and/or your local or state herpetological society, if there is one in your area.
    United States Association of Reptile Keepers

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