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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Who loves ya, baby?

Published 07/27/09
By Susan Trout, Program Assistant

Today a news article came across my desk reporting on more than a hundred exotic animals turned over to a zoo in Connecticut in response to its first amnesty day for exotic animals.

Many owners turned in their animals because they had become unmanageably big. One resident turned over his two Sulcata tortoises. They could fit in your hand when they first purchased them — now they’re the size of car hubcaps! “We didn’t know they would get that big in eight years. I like them a lot, but they don’t give you any love. They just want food.” Really?

I marvel at our diversity of species but the idea keeping a reptile as a “pet” just seems so very odd to me. I simply cannot imagine cuddling a 10-ft boa constrictor or a 30-pound tortoise. Where’s the love? My advice to the tortoise owner is that if you are looking for a pet to love you back, please, by all means visit your local shelter or contact a dog or cat rescue group. Our country’s economic woes have resulted in hundreds of thousands of domestic pets being relinquished because people have lost their homes and employment. These precious creatures do give love — lots of it!

Laws regulating the private ownership of exotic animals are far too lax in many states. Since when can a person purchase a rare tortoise or snake and not be informed about the potential for danger or unmanageability as the animal grows larger? How many more horribly tragic incidents like the one involving Travis the chimp must occur before our elected officials agree that wild, exotic animals have no business being in the hands of private citizens. They are potential timebombs just waiting to explode — not cuddly pets! If people stop buying these creatures, the demand will end and so will the need for amnesty days at zoos.

Keep wildlife in the wild! And if it’s love you’re looking for, visit your local shelter and save a life!

Learn more about the sad trade in exotic pets and what you can do to stop it.

Till next time,

Susan

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