Under Attack: The Protection of Exotic Animals
by Rob English
Have you ever seen a tiger up close and heard it growl? It can raise the hair on the back of your neck! You are probably very glad that glad there are bars between you and it when the big cat yawns and you see how big and deadly its fangs are. These experiences are available at many “roadside zoos” because people will pay good money to see lions and tigers growl from hunger and yawn from frustration and boredom.
In 2014, New York law made it illegal for such exhibitors to let people take pictures with big cats or to come in direct contact with them. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) liked that. In a statement they said, “These wild cats are typically taken away from their families as babies and denied everything that is natural and important to them, all so that a succession of strangers can manhandle them for photo opportunities.” (https://www.peta.org/blog/new-york-yanks-big-cat-exhibitors-source-income/).
PETA’s statement continued: “When the animals grow too big to be held, they are caged for life in decrepit roadside zoos, shipped to canned hunting ranches to be gunned down, slaughtered for “exotic meat,” or sold to be kept as neglected and dangerous “exotic pets.” [Note – A “canned” hunt is one in which the hunted animal is fenced in and has no way to escape being killed – R.E.]
In the United States the US Department of Agriculture’s APHIS Inspection Service licenses and oversees big cat exhibitors, and has been known to pull licenses or even remove animals if they are mistreated or neglected by licensees. That makes sense. Big cats and other exotic animals need veterinary care, including dental care, and they need good nutrition, and enrichment within their confines. If an owner cannot or will not provide for their animals, the animals must be taken away and placed with a competent sanctuary.
However, some owners will fight to maintain the income stream that comes from exhibiting poorly maintained animals. A web page currently under construction by New York State for Exotic Animal Ownership states, “Reclaim your freedom by taking a stand against the unlawful ban and misconduct of authorities involving the ownership of exotic animals.” (http://www.nysexotics.com/).
The page’s creator claims that the USDA is in collusion with animal welfare groups to “unlawfully” and “unconstitutionally” remove animals, and wishes to enact laws further restricting the State of New York from doing its job in protecting captive exotics from situations of inappropriate or inadequate care.
Time will tell if they are successful.
Rob is a member of People for Animal Rights, a grassroots organization in Central New York.
Photo by Charl Durand and Robert Stokoe from pexels
Contact People for Animal Rights
P.O. Box 3333
Syracuse, NY 13220