Lions and Tigers and Bears
Katy Steinmetz writes about exotic pets in the Missourian. She comes down squarely on the side of the St. Louis County chickens. (Chickens are exotic? Only in St. Louis County.) However, she’s not in favor of allowing larger, potentially dangerous animals as pets.
The column elicited some interesting comments about the downsides of exotic pet regulation, not all of which I agree with. Such as:
While on the surface your logic seems quite appropriate, but may I point out that all species, even your golden retriever, started out as a “wild animal” in some form or another.
Yes, but it’s been a really long time since our ancestors were coaxing wolves to come closer to the fire. The average golden retriever is ready to be a pet. The average wolf isn’t.
Any pet, regardless of species, can be a good pet, as well as be a bad pet. It’s all dependent on the humans involved.
Even lions? I don’t think so. Some big, dangerous, undomesticated animals are just objectively bad pets.
The commenter anticipates my thought about lions:
You may think a lion, tiger, bear, or chimpanzee may seem terribly dangerous, but they actually account for such a miniscule amount of deaths and injuries each year per capita.
Not convincing, because so few people keep those animals. I can accept that a wild cat roaming the mountains and avoiding people by nature isn’t dangerous, and a bear confined in a zoo isn’t dangerous. But it would be dangerous to allow these animals in residential neighborhoods. If more people had them in their houses, they would “account for” more deaths.
This is a good point:
One problem with regulation is it creates a lack of new people learning the regulated skills. The fewer people that live in areas that are “allowed” to own a species, the fewer can have enough contact with the animals to learn to be able to handle that species.
But I still don’t think that outweighs the safety issue. If people want to learn to handle exotic animals, they should work in a zoo, and learn the skills in an environment where they’re less likely to endanger others.