This may come as a shock:
Trade in exotic wildlife ranks right up there with drugs, guns, and human smuggling and the U.S. is a haven.
It’s far less lucrative than those three, but, in terms of revenue, it’s still a multi-billion dollar illicit industry.
What may be more shocking is that the U.S. is a haven for exotic wildlife trade because many states have little or no regulations about having exotic or dangerous animals as pets. Ohio, for instance, had no laws regulating dangerous animals as pets until a man released his over 50 lions, tigers, and bears into the streets.
There are more tigers in Texas than India.
The question is…WHY?
It looks like the answer is pure emotion. People are seduced by the allure of owning an exotic or dangerous wild animal. In some cases, the emotion can be so powerful as to give people a genuine purpose in life … lifting them out of depression or giving them a true feeling of joy.
Who are the people who own these wild pets? Some are celebrities or entertainers. But many are just ordinary people who get drawn into this hobby, or lifestyle. Some might be interested in becoming breeders or making a profit. And some may be conservationists.
But, as you can see from these videos, the danger of owning a dangerous exotic animal is real. If they are not cared for properly or if the owner is reckless, this can lead to serious public hazards. According to many, the ownership of dangerous exotic animals in residential areas is inherently dangerous because such animals will always remain predators at heart and there is no guarantee of safety for the community.
Currently, you can sign a petition at WorldWildLife.org asking President Obama to further regulate the domestic trade in tigers.
The root of the problem
According to Wikipedia, “Unlike commonly domesticated pets, exotic animals retain their wild nature. Even if they are bred for the pet trade and raised by humans, they may be unpredictable, relatively resistant to training; in some cases, especially as full-grown adults, they can be dangerous.”
This gets to the root of the problem. Although fatalities are relatively rare (though at least 77 have occurred in the last 25 years), it’s that these animals will always pose a hazard to communities due to their inherently feral nature. At the very least, they will always give people a sense of fear and discomfort in their own neighborhoods.
How would you feel if your neighbor had a bear, tiger, or lion in his or her backyard?
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