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Exotic Pets: Bad for Animals, Bad for Humans

Exotic Pets: Bad for Animals, Bad for Humans

The Boston Globe is reporting on lax exotic pet laws, specifically those in Ohio and several other states.

Attacks of humans by pets in recent years have stirred up a debate about the merit of keeping exotic animals as personal companions.

In Ohio last month a caretaker was killed while feeding a bear that belonged to one Sam Mazzola. Mazzola kept a menagerie that included bears, wolves and tigers. After the caretaker was mauled, the bear was killed as well.

Not long ago a woman in Connecticut was blinded after being attacked by a friend’s pet chimpanzee. And in Florida, a 2-year-old girl was killed by her family’s python.

Because it is always an injury of a human by an animal that ignites the debate about the keeping of exotic pets, the debate usually centers around the safety of the humans involved. And while it is extremely dangerous for individuals to keep wild animals, it is the animals who really suffer.

We cannot fault a captive animal that attacks a human caretaker. These animals are not domesticated; they’re wild. They are confined and under psychological stress and you cannot hold them accountable for acting on instinct. It’s in their nature.

People who keep exotic animals as pets, or in private menageries, are running small-scale zoos. True, they may not be exhibiting animals for the public’s amusement, but they are still confining animals for their own amusement. This kind of confinement exerts anxiety and tension on an animal that we cannot understand.

In Ohio specifically, exotic pet laws are being dragged into what is already a complicated animal welfare compromise being given lip service by both sides of the issue, if through gritted teeth. The Humane Society agreed to withdraw efforts to get animal welfare legislation on the ballot in Ohio under the condition that Ohioans implement some of these measures voluntarily.

One of the measures being tweaked is the exotic pet law. The legislation was already being revised to allow people to keep their existing pets, but not to acquire new animals or breed them. In light of recent attacks, especially the bear attack, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has acted to expand the measure to allow the state to confiscate animals from owners if necessary.

But this measure is another example of too little too late. None of the measures would eliminate exotic pet ownership entirely, just curtail it. There’s absolutely no reason for humans to confine wild animals. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in zoos, and not in the homes of human beings.

Even though it is the rare but tragic instance of an animal hurting a human that makes headlines, it is the animals who suffer silently everyday.

TAKE ACTION: Wild and exotic animals should not be be kept as pets!

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Photo: Martyn Davies

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193 comments

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6:09AM PST on Feb 8, 2013

As a fellow I work with likes to say, you can the animal out the wild but you never take the wild out of the animal. Some of course make better "pets" than others but better legislation needs to be in place,

4:26PM PST on Dec 23, 2012

Hartson - ever seen a kangaroo cull?!

4:23PM PST on Dec 23, 2012

A wild animal is a wild animal. They don't take kindly to restraint, deserving freedom and respect. Surely there are sufficient domesticated animals in the world to keep any reasonable animal lover happy?

3:52PM PDT on May 17, 2012

Balance is need, to bann things are not the answer better regulations are more efective solutions, just think some of this animales never will survive if there are no safe places that take care of them.

8:49PM PST on Nov 16, 2011

If you would like to help exotic animals, please vote daily until November 30 to save monkeys in Canada.

Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary is in the running to win $100 000 to build a new barn for more animal rescues!

Vote here: http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf10939

3:28AM PDT on Nov 1, 2011

Thanks.

2:38PM PDT on Oct 20, 2011

Too bad you can legislate common sense! Because anyone that wants to keep a bear or tiger has completely lost it!

3:40AM PDT on Oct 20, 2011

Thanks for telling the world

1:24PM PST on Feb 13, 2011

Nurse sharks are another fish that should not be kept as pets.
For the love of sharks
http://www.mdgazette.com/content/love-sharks
You can also sign our petition;
http://www.care2.com/my/petitionsite

4:18PM PST on Feb 12, 2011

In Australia where there are so many endangered native animals, raising these wild animal as pets is being tried as a way to keep the species a live.

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