Imagine a colorful flock of parrots flying free. Perhaps you picture them in lush Mexican jungles or on craggy mountainsides in South America. But what about in the hectic streets of San Francisco?
Thousands of captive wild animals — elephants, lions, tigers, ocelots, servals, wolves, bears, alligators, venomous snakes, monkeys and other nonhuman primates, and more — are privately held, displayed at roadside zoos and menageries, and used in traveling circuses all across the country.
The sale, possession, and use of captive wild animals is regulated by a patchwork of federal, state, and local laws that generally vary by community and by animal. What results is very little protection under the law. These animals need our help! We must pursue legislation on all levels to ensure stronger protections.
When Miami airport inspectors asked a man arriving from Havana, Cuba to raise his pants legs, they were surprised to find 44 birds strapped to his legs. The man had denied he was bringing any wildlife into the United States. He was released the next day on $50,000 bond after being charged with lying on a customs declaration form.
Imagine you’ve been chained to a tree in a backyard for months, without food or water or any hope of rescue. Imagine you’re at half your ideal body weight, the victim of devastating malnutrition, anemia, calcium deficiency, and stress fractures. Imagine you’ve been beaten with a stick so viciously that you bleed. All for the amusement and profit of others.
State and local fairs are as much a symbol of America as apple pie and Fourth of July. Traditionally fairs brought communities together to celebrate the bounty of summer and show off the skills of local people through contests and talent shows.
In October 2001, the Animal Protection Institute and the Fund for Animals sued the California Department of Fish and Game (CF&G) for its failure to enforce and comply with state laws governing captive wild animals.