You’ve shared an exotic pet video. Now what?

Maybe you’ve come across this because you were hoping to get a pet tiger/lion/monkey/ape/or some other strange exotic animal or perhaps someone posted this link because you shared a video or photo of one of these animals being kept as a pet. But why do some people have a problem with that? Why is it dangerous to simply say “Aww! It’s so cute!! I want one!”? Here are the top 3 dangers to sharing videos of exotic animals in unnatural settings (like living rooms):

1.   You don’t know where it came from

In America we have laws that forbid people from importing certain species, but as we all know laws get broken. So did that cute little ‘finger monkey’ (also known as a pygmy marmoset who has a declining population in the wild due to the pet trade and deforestation) come from a breeder or was it brought in someone’s suitcase?

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Did you know that for most species of exotic pets, if it was caught in the wild, 10 individuals had to die for every 1 that makes it to it’s final destination?

Granted, this number can range greatly depending on the species, but often times infants or juveniles are caught by killing the mother or by killing the entire group, depending on how social they are.

saddlebacked tamarins resized

Something else to think about: Just because you can purchase one from a breeder legally here doesn’t mean everyone else has that luxury. In many countries the pet trade is booming, thanks in part to people who share pictures of their legally purchased monkey or snake or parrot in Western countries, which then increases demand all over the globe.

2.   You don’t know it’s future

Did you know that ring-tailed lemurs live longer than most dogs? Or that that cute tiger cub will grow to be between 150 and 650 lbs and live to be over 20 years old? What about how much it costs to feed an animal with a specialized diet for  two decades? What about the large housing requirements (not required by law, but ethically? Let’s be real, bird cages aren’t big enough for primates, and dog cages aren’t big enough for lions)?

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What happens to these animals when people realize owning a primate is like having a perpetual 2 year old who can bite and also climb curtains for 17 years? The rescues are filling up. There simply is not the space for these creatures. Demand is high and so many people decide several years in they can not keep the pet for financial or time reasons and they look for a place for their once beloved pet to go.

Exotic animal rescues have waitlists. Long ones. I’m talking years. It can be harder to get a spot at a decent rescue than it is to get your kid into the best preschool in the state.

Backyard Tiger Breeding in the US-- There are currently more tigers as pets in Texas alone than there are left in the wild
Backyard Tiger Breeding in the US– There are currently more tigers as pets in Texas alone than there are left in the wild

So think: When you see a picture of a cute tiger cub… what does it’s future look like? How many other people will jump at the chance to own something so cute and special without knowing the reality of life with a big cat? (Did you know they can spray urine 15 feet? And they do. Often.)

3.    But I’m just sharing a video…

Do you know what a slow loris is? No? How about a cute little fluffy thing that likes eating rice balls and being tickled? Starting to ring a bell?

This is actually a defensive fear response because the loris's venom glands are in it's armpits -- for more information visit www.ticklingistorture.org
This is actually a defensive fear response because the loris’s venom glands are in it’s armpits — for more information visit http://www.ticklingistorture.org

That creature is a slow loris which is a nocturnal, venomous, insect eating, primate from Asia and because of the popularity of a few youtube videos this species could now go extinct.

These tiny primates are taken from the wild (pretty much never bred in captivity because they will not breed in captivity, even zoos struggle to make them reproduce), their teeth are pulled with pliers, and they are fed a diet equivalent to you eating nothing but 15 snickers bars a day. Not to mention they stink. It’s only natural; when you’re a nocturnal animal other species might not be able to see you, but guess what? If you’re smelly enough they can smell you. So people try to bathe them to make them smell nicer, and their hair begins to fall out. Humans want their cute pet awake when they are, so they disrupt this little primate’s sleep pattern. But his eyes aren’t adapted for so much sunlight. Soon, he’ll go blind.

Teeth are pulled to decrease the likelihood of the owner being injured, but this results in permanent damage to the loris
Teeth are pulled to decrease the likelihood of the owner being injured, but this results in permanent damage to the loris

So if you think there is no harm in just hitting the share button, remember the slow loris, because soon all we’ll have is memories if the pet trade doesn’t stop consuming this species.

Want more proof?

Learn about the slow loris pet trade here 

Read a rescue story about a primate here

Read a rescue story about a big cat here 

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3 thoughts on “You’ve shared an exotic pet video. Now what?”

    1. Thank you for reading. I encourage you to share the link if someone ever posts something questionable, because I believe people don’t mean harm and that many people wouldn’t hit the share button if they knew the consequences.

  1. Chances are, if you’ve recently scrolled through your Facebook news feed, you’ve seen at least one unbearably cute video of some exotic animal that just melted your heart. This is because thousands of pictures, videos, and GIFs of exotic animals are being shared across social media platforms

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