Born Free USA, the nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, has launched an unprecedented interactive database of deadly and dangerous captive wild animal incidents designed as a resource for the media, lawmakers, activists and the public, to help shed light on the magnitude of the issue.
Born Free USA’s goal is to provide a tool to support action that can prevent another tragedy like the chimpanzee Travis in Connecticut and the other horrendous incidents listed in the database, and put an end to the captive wildlife trade and private ownership of wild animals.
The database lists nearly 1,400 attacks and incidents that have occurred since 1990, searchable by state, species, type and keyword, and includes a U.S. map graphic marking each location — a shocking visual to illustrate how geographically widespread the problem is.
According to BFUSA's chief executive officer, Will Travers, “Wild animals are wild. And as long as humans insist on capturing them for pets or for entertainment, our lives and our children’s lives are in danger. By offering this information as an interactive, searchable online database tool, we aim to provide a resource to educate and inform lawmakers, the media and the public on the critical aspects of the issue. These incidents are frighteningly common. A person’s life can be taken in an instant.”
History has proven that an exotic animal attack on a human being can happen at any time, anywhere in the United States as a result of someone keeping a wild animal as a pet, a captive animal escaping from a zoo, or animals used for entertainment attacking their human caretakers.
“Many people who have been attacked profess their love for the animal and were not physically abusive towards the animal," Travers said. "It is not necessarily abuse that provokes an escape or attack. Even the most seemingly tame, beloved wild animal is a ticking time bomb. They cannot be tamed and should not be confined."
Wild animals belong in the wild — not in the confinement of circuses, zoos, backyards or apartments. Kept in captivity, wild and exotic animals are not able to perform their natural behaviors and many animals literally go insane, suffering psychological and physical deprivation. Humans are at equal risk as a result of escapes, bites or other forms of attack.
Born Free USA’s captive wildlife database includes 899 exotic "pet" incidents, 79 performing captive exotic animal incidents and 227 zoo incidents. The state with the most incidents overall is Florida. The top species is reptile. The human death toll to date is 68.
If you know of an exotic animal incident that is not in the database, contact Born Free USA at firstname.lastname@example.org.