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Do new laws mean dozens of exotic animals may be killed?

Tiger awaiting rescue in Texas

Recent headlines read:

New law means dozens of exotic animals may be killed

Mexico deadline to ban circus animals looms but doubt shrouds creatures’ fate

Man forced to remove exotic animals from County property

We’re often asked if we support legislation like this.  With a patchwork of laws across the United States ranging from state legislation, county laws and township ordinances, it’s hard to keep up.

The Wildcat Sanctuary supports legislation that will decrease the number of dangerous wild animals as pets and for profit. Our goal is never to displace animals that are currently being cared for safely and properly, but instead to prevent future animals from abuse and neglect. We support grandfather clauses that allow current owners to keep possession, if they meet certain requirements, but limits the breeding and profiting from exploitation, such as cub petting or traveling exhibits.

Sadly, many of these owners no longer want the animals if they cannot profit from them.  Some say they can’t afford to keep them if they don’t continue to profit and breed more.  Others say the animals have nowhere to go. Many contact the media stating they’ll have to kill or sell their animals to the highest bidder, even when credible sanctuaries have offered placement.

What most don’t know is some of these cases have been tied up in court for years and the owner has received their last warning before seizure.  That’s when it hits the headlines.  The media makes it sound like it happened overnight and the animals are in a do-or-die situation.  That’s what sells.

Even though we don’t agree with private ownership of wild animals, there are a handful of cases where ordinances were interpreted or created just to pressure an owner to move or give up their animals.  This even happens to sanctuaries and credible facilities.  In those cases, we are empathetic because we have been in that situation, too.  Zoning changes forced us to move our sanctuary many years ago. We always offer our assistance to place the animals to ensure they are safe.  But, only on a rare occasion do the owners accept our help.

It can be difficult to decipher between the exploiters who are using the headlines to fight their battles and gain support vs. the few individuals who own exotic animals as pets and just wanted to be committed to those specific animals for a lifetime.

There are states and countries that have passed good laws banning the future abuse of wild animals, but they didn’t listen to the sanctuaries on the front lines about how those laws should be executed.  If not enforced properly, and the animals’ welfare isn’t put first, it can have a negative impact and put the animals’ fate in limbo.

We have always said that we cannot rescue ourselves out of the captive wildlife crisis.  And the more breeding and profit-driven animal exhibits are allowed, the more the problem will grow.  The problem isn’t the banning laws hitting the headlines today. The real problem is the lack of laws that have been in place to prevent the problem in the first place.

Similar to overpopulation of domestic pets, the answer lies in restricting and preventing the future breeding of lions, tigers and other wild animals by the private sector.  Until then, we will continue to fight for the safety and humane care of lions, tigers and other wild cats.

What you can do to help:

Share our No More Wild Pets campaign public service announcements in order to help educate others.  Watch them HERE

Share our Say No to Cub Petting animated video to assure the general public knows the fate for those bred for interaction.  Watch it HERE

Visit our No More Wild Pets website for more important information HERE

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