Outrageous ‘Pets’

Apparently we are no longer satisfied with ‘conventional pets’. More and more people want something a little out of the ordinary. Whether as a result of a whim, a fashion trend, a desire to stand out from the crowd, as One Click Away makes clear, millions of wild animals are now on the ‘wish list’. And, as this Report also makes clear, the implications are dire both for the individuals and for the species concerned.

As if it was not enough to be given the awesome responsibility of properly caring for a cat, dog or horse (and heaven knows many of us make a pretty miserable job of that, given the number of abandoned animals roaming the streets, the full-to-bursting shelters and rescue centres and the thousands of healthy but unwanted pets destroyed each and every year), we now crave the monkey, the lizard, the snake, the fish, the parrot, the tortoise, the terrapin – even exotic cat species such as ocelot, serval and caracal.

Why? Well it would be all too easy to point the finger of blame at the like of Michael Jackson with his chimpanzee Bubbles, or Justin Bieber with his pet monkey. It would be equally facile to single out films like Finding Nemo and the subsequent surge in ownership (more often short-term ownership) of clown fish. Or the YouTube footage of a slow loris supposedly giggling while being tickled under the forearms which made the species, at least temporarily, the new ‘must have’ pet – they’re SOOO cute

The Born Free Foundation has long-standing concerns about the trade and possession of wild animals as pets. Our global efforts include intercepting and rescuing some of the 2-300 cheetah cubs currently smuggled out of the Horn of Africa into the Middle East as status symbol pets, the perfect accessory for the back of the luxury four wheel drive.

We contend, and the evidence suggests, that this trade is inflicting gross suffering on millions of wild animals and driving species to the brink, facilitated by slack law enforcement, lack of effective legislation, increased disposable income, the ‘well why not’ attitude that increasingly pervades our society – all these combine to make the keeping of exotic pets, many ordered blindly over the internet, all the rage.

And outrage is what we should feel when confronted with this abomination – outrage that we must control and channel and focus to turn into reality the numerous vitally important recommendations set out by Blue Cross and Born Free in One Click Away.

Of course, the trade in and ownership of exotic ‘pets’ may be low down on the political agenda but it is here on our patch, on our doorstep and it is one thing we can do something about. One Click Away means that no longer can inaction be excused as a result of ignorance, the ‘I didn’t know anything about it’ syndrome.

One Click Away should be the catalyst that initiates effective reform to the law, to enforcement, to regulation and to public attitudes. The exploitation of wild animals as ‘pets’ should not be ‘business as usual’.

Blogging off!


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