... and Why Not!
What makes one pet seeker settle for a dog or cat, while another seeks out a wolf or a lion? In the opinion of one California animal control officer, “Most people who keep wild animals have them as a vanity pet, for their own ego, not for the benefit of the animal.”
Officially, there are several hundred exotic animals living in Los Angeles County alone. But since the state of California has a law discouraging ownership of exotic animals as pets, many more are kept illegally.
Whatever motive may prompt the desire for an exotic pet, the trade in exotic animals is presently a five-billion dollar business and the black market third in profit only to drugs and arms. At the top of smuggler activity are rare and endangered species traded in low-volume for big price tags while more common animals, exotic but not endangered, sometimes legal, many times not - are traded in high volume driven by the changing fads for weird pets. An example is the iguana. In the wake of “Jurassic Park” iguanas became the trendy pet. Unfortunately, the Slither Critters Foundation which rescues and rehabilitates reptiles, soon became inundated with unwanted iguanas, who eventually grow to five-feet and require a very large habitat.
If, for whatever reason, you cannot settle for something more prosaic than an exotic pet, first do you homework thoroughly. Learn all about his/her potential growth and habitat needs, proper care, diet, habits, etc.
Because many exotics bond closely with their “owners”, an exotic pet should be considered a responsibility for the lifetime of that animal. In the case of a glamour parrot, such as the popular, colorful macaw, this can mean a commitment of forty to eighty years!
A macaw comes with other considerations as well: a tropical rainforest scream that can be heard a mile away; a need to chew on wood and a tendency to bite; and a temperament that needs and demands attention. If a macaw is still the exotic pet of choice, only a hand-raised, captive bred one should be considered.
Due to their popularity, parrots are among the most valued species on the black market and one of the most abused. It is estimated that some 60 to 80 percent of the birds die enroute as smugglers conceal them in everything from gas cans and tennis ball containers to spare tires and engine compartments.
Finally, two other major considerations for all prospective buyers of exotic pets, particularly those with children: (1) exotic animals can carry some diseases communicable to humans, and (2) when an exotic animal matures, his/her instincts take over.
You cannot take the wild out of a wild animal!