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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Tillema

The Exotic Pet Keeping Controversy


Exotic baby Tiger Cub

Exotic pet keeping and ownership has long been a controversial topic, with passionate arguments on both sides of the issue. While some people believe that owning exotic pets is a status symbol or a way to connect with nature, others argue that it is harmful to the animals and presents a danger to both the animals and their owners.


One of the main concerns with exotic pet ownership is the welfare of the animals themselves. Many exotic animals have specialized dietary and environmental needs that can be difficult to meet in a domestic setting. For example, large cats like tigers require a large amount of space to roam and hunt, which is nearly impossible to provide in a typical household. Without proper care and enrichment, these animals can suffer from physical and psychological issues, leading to a decreased quality of life. We saw an excellent example of this in the famous Netflix series Tiger King. Where Joe Exotic kept large cats and other animals on the premise of bieng a rescue but we find out later he was quite abusive , even shooting animals under his care. Another exotic cat keeper in that series is Doc Antle who also owns a rescue which turns out to be a front for breeding big cats and also had allegations of animal abuse.


Another major concern with exotic pet ownership is the safety of both the animals and their owners. Wild animals, even those that have been bred in captivity, retain their natural instincts and behaviors. This can lead to dangerous situations, especially with larger or more aggressive species. Incidents of exotic pets attacking their owners or escaping into the wild are not uncommon, posing a threat to both humans and other animals. An interesting story came out of Connecticut in 2009. A chimp named Travis attack a woman and had to be shot. There was no alleged abuse in this case the owner had raised Travis from a young age, she even taught him to dress himself and use a computer. He lived in the home and was treated like a child instead of the wild animal he was he even slept with his owner in her bed. As he got older ,Travis began to exhibit some wild behavior and was given Xanax. Experts feel as if this fueled his rage when he turned on a friend of the family , someone whom Travis knew and was comfortable around. The friend lost her entire face which was so mangled the medical staff needed counseling.


In addition to the welfare and safety concerns, there are also ethical considerations surrounding the exotic pet trade. Many exotic animals are captured from the wild or bred in inhumane conditions to meet the demand for exotic pets. This can contribute to the depletion of wild populations and perpetuate the cycle of exploitation and suffering. Many animals are poached with the parent bieng killed so they can sell babies illegally.


Despite these concerns, there are still many people who argue in favor of exotic pet ownership. They believe that responsible owners can provide a loving and enriching environment for their exotic pets, and that the bond between human and animal can be beneficial for both parties. Additionally, some argue that owning exotic pets can help to raise awareness and support for conservation efforts, as owners become more invested in the welfare of the species.


Ultimately, the controversy of exotic pet ownership is a complex issue with no easy answers. While some argue that certain species should never be kept as pets, others believe that with proper education, regulation, and ethical considerations, exotic pet ownership can be a rewarding experience for both humans and animals. As the debate continues, it is important for potential exotic pet owners to thoroughly research and consider the implications of their decision before bringing an exotic animal into their home.

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