Correcting a Childhood Dream

Who, as a child, did not dream of having a monkey or even a raccoon as a pet?  Especially when you’d see a movie where a kid had a wild animal, some of us would watch with envy, wishing it was us lucky enough to have something other than just a dog or cat to play with or show off to our friends.  Or only if we had cool parents that would agree that adding a bear cub to the family was a great idea.  Thank goodness for smart parents, as well as laws that prevent ownership of wild animals, because they have prevented most kids from ever finding out what it would be like to have, let’s say a pet lion. 

No doubt wild animals are cute when they are young.  They can even be handled fairly easily without much fear of them biting or causing some other injury, which can lure people into believing that having a fawn is a good idea.  A baby monkey, for example, is quite content to be carried and tended to, but that’s only because they no longer have a real mother that would be doing this for them.  Thinking about wrestling with a baby lion seems like lots of fun in the eyes of a child, but it’s not going to be long before the playing gets to be too rough and dangerous.  Then what happens to the animal?  In most instances, it does not turn out well in the end for them.

Unfortunately, it is still possible to acquire wild animals as pets, whether you find one yourself or are willing to pay the price to buy one illegally.  Those purchased illegally, are most definitely animals that were removed from their mother at too young an age and subjected to harsh and cruel conditions as they are transported to a location where they can be sold.  In many instances, the mother had to be killed, as she fought to protect her child from being stolen, which makes the illegal animal trade an even greater tragedy.  There is absolutely nothing good that comes out of this horrible business.

Very few people who take on a wild animal as a pet have the knowledge, proper environment, correct food or long term plan to keep the animal healthy, happy and alive.  They rarely think of what they would do if the animal gets sick, and there is a greater risk of this happening for wild caught animals because of improper diet, inadequate environment, plus the stress of being confined.  The animals that get sick are more apt to die young because veterinary care is not available or the owner doesn’t want anyone to know they have an illegal animal.  As the animal grows, very often their cage or enclosure does not grow with them, forcing the animal into a miserable life of confinement or boredom – completely unlike how they would be living if they were still in the wild.

Finding a zoo to take an illegal animal that is no longer wanted and has been living in the care of someone is difficult, if not impossible.  Inquiries for a place willing to take a grown bear or a lion, can lead to the owner of an illegal animal facing steep fines or even imprisonment.  Turning a wild animal loose after being in the care of people will mean almost certain death for the animal because they don’t know what they are doing.  And if an owner lives in an area not suitable for wild animals, they often have no way to safely transport them to what they determine is a more ideal location.  With no easy way to “dispose” of a wild animal, most people reach the conclusion that the only solution is to kill the animal, which usually means shooting it.

Hopefully, more and more children will give up the dream of having a wild animal as a pet and replace it with another dream.  A dream that someday, all people will wise up to the fact that wild animals belong in the wild, not in someone’s back yard, confined to a cage.  That will be a dream with a happy ending.

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