Born Free USA Blog
Here at Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute we believe in compassionate conservation. What this means is that while we strive to protect wildlife at the species level we also believe that the well-being of individual animals also matters.
It’s too bad the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) doesn’t share our vision.
Recently I reviewed yet another permit application from a captive wild animal display facility in the United States seeking permission from the USFWS to import live endangered cheetah cubs from South Africa.
You see, there is a cheetah breeding facility in South Africa that essentially takes and fills orders for captive display facilities (zoos, roadside zoos, traveling shows, etc.) who want to add cheetah to their collections.
You heard that right, they take orders for cheetah cubs before they are even born.
Purchasers can request “parent-raised” or “hand-raised” (cubs that have been taken from their mother to be raise by humans) and can even request an “ambassador trained” cheetah — this is a cheetah that has been trained to walk on a leash. Of course it costs more for hand-fed and leash-trained cheetahs.
Keep in mind that once imported, these cheetah will be confined to areas only a fraction of the size of what they would utilize in the wild, thereby denying them the ability to express natural behaviors that evolved over the course of thousands of years in this species.
What’s more, once imported, their “owners” are not required to do squat to ensure the survival of the species. There is no restriction on the amount of commercial profit they can make of displaying the imported cheetah and no minimum donation they are required to make to legitimate conservation programs.
When I raised concerns about the welfare of the cheetah and the implications of allowing endangered species to be bred and used for commercial purposes to the USFWS agent responsible for approving such permits, he laughed at me.
I’m not kidding ... he actually laughed.
He said that welfare of individual animals is not important.
When I said a majority of people would disagree and that concern for individual animal welfare and conservation of the species are not mutually exclusive, he laughed again and said “It’s the species that matters,” and reiterated, “the individuals are all the same, they don’t matter.”
I wonder what happened in this man’s life that turned him into such a smug, cold-hearted, jerk.
Whatever the cause or reason, this is what we are up against.
This is also what makes me so grateful for all of you — our supporters who do care about individual animals and the survival of species — you restore my faith in humanity.