Why you should think twice about owning a dangerous wild animal
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
Everyone has at one point entertained the idea of owning an exotic animal. How could you not? Tigers are adorable, monkeys are cool as hell, and bears are so fuzzy! But are they suitable pets? Absolutely not.
The thing about owning a wild animal as a pet is that they’re wild animals. Some may become accustomed to being or even living indoors, but they’re not domesticated by any stretch. They still have their wild instincts and they need specific living conditions, diets, and environments to live comfortably. When these needs are not met, they can get sick, agitated, stressed out, depressed, and even die as a result.
In fact, this is the fate of most wild animals that are held in captivity. Often the owner is unaware of their needs, so the animals die because of hypo- or hyperthermia, neglect, dehydration, or starvation—or in other words, because of their owner’s ignorance. Most wild animals suffer while living in captivity because they have to express their wild nature and roam around their natural habitat, which is obviously not a suburban backyard. Or if they’re big, aggressive animals, like big cats or bears, they can injure, terrorize, and sometimes even kill people because of the stress and trauma from not living in their natural environment.
Cats and dogs have been domesticated for millennia. They have gone through many generations of selective breeding so that they can be our furry companions and live in the comfort of our homes. Wild animals have no such genetic coding. No matter what you do, you can’t tame them. Even if people raise wild creatures from newborns, they still have primal instincts and behaviours and it’s in their nature to act on them. I think it’s cruel that some people try to supress these behaviours in their exotic pets in order to try taming them. Some animals just cannot and should not be kept as pets, no matter how cute or affectionate someone thinks they are.
Another concerning aspect about owning an exotic animal is that often people realize they can’t care for them or get bored and release them into the wild. A nice idea, trying to get the animal back to nature—but if it’s not their natural habitat, or if they’re an aggressive species, this actually puts the animal, the public, and the environment in danger. The released animals can hurt or kill people, become invasive species, or even spread diseases like monkeypox, rabies, herpes, salmonella, and many more. I think it’s safer for everyone to keep wild animals where they belong: In the wild and in their natural habitats.
I’m glad BC has tough laws about owning exotic pets, but that doesn’t stop people from getting them. I understand wanting an exotic pet because of a love for animals. However, I think it’s better to love them from a distance when they are in their natural environment because that is where they can live happily and healthily.