Keeping Wildlife Wild

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Endangered baby dolphin, not a selfie prop

An endangered baby dolphin was taken out of the water in South America and passed around for selfies. It died of heatstroke. Dolphins can’t regulate their body temperature the way humans or other mammals can. This makes them prone to heatstroke. A dolphin’s skin is also extremely sensitive to touch as well as the sun. Nicholas the dolphin, a resident at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, who was rescued in 2002 when he was found beached with his mother, still has scars from his sunburn four years later. The point I make here is that the dolphin killed in South America most likely died in pain. Repeat after me: Wild animals are not selfie props.

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Nicholas the dolphin in his pool at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

A baby buffalo was placed in the back of an SUV overnight because the campers felt that it would be “too cold.” It later died. Fact: That baby buffalo has a mother who will gore you to death if you mess with her baby. Don’t do it. Buffalo are born with thick fur and are meant to live in colder climates. That baby buffalo was going to be just fine where it was. Taking a wild baby animal out of its natural habitat may cause it to be rejected by its mother and abandoned and baby animals don’t typically survive when abandoned. Now repeat after me: wild animals belong in the wild, not the back of my SUV. If you think a baby animal has been abandoned, contact the park rangers or your local fish and wildlife agency.

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These people are running for a reason: A furry SUV with horns is charging at them. Don’t mess with this momma!

A baby seal was taken off a beach in Washington in a plastic bag and when the individual figured out that she didn’t have the first clue how to care for it and called fish and wildlife, the animal was so sick it couldn’t be saved and had to be euthanized to end its suffering.  She thought the baby seal had been abandoned because it was alone on the beach. Fact: Baby seals spend lots of time alone on a beach. After giving birth, a mother seal needs to hunt and eat to gain back the strength she lost giving birth and ensure her ability to produce enough milk to feed her hungry baby. While some mother seals may be killed by sharks or other predators while out hunting and this would mean almost certain death to the baby she left behind on the beach, though it’s sad it’s all part of the natural order and we as humans really shouldn’t interfere. Now repeat after me: wild animals belong in the wild, not at my house. If you really think the baby seal you see on the beach has been separated from its mother and is stranded, contact your local fish and wildlife agency or your local marine mammal stranding center.

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Baby seals belong in the ocean, not a plastic bag on someone’s deck. This animal suffered.

This will sound completely insane, but most US states don’t require you to be specially licensed to own a wild animal such as a lion, tiger, or bear (Oh my! Sorry couldn’t resist.). The federal government requires an inspection of the environment you’re keeping the animal in, but that’s about it. As a result, people who don’t know what a tiger requires in terms of containment and a stimulating environment decide it’s a good idea to purchase one and keep it as a pet. Regardless of where and how that animal was bred or how used to humans it may be, it’s still a wild animal and its instinct is to hunt and kill for survival. You can’t breed or train that out of them. What you have is not a pet. What you have is a ticking time bomb if you don’t provide appropriate enrichment and proper containment.

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Oh right because an apex predator totally belongs at the dinner table.

So what happens? The animal either attacks you or the animal gets loose and now the police and/or fish and wildlife have to deal with it. In that scenario, the animal is almost always killed. An animal suffers and dies and havoc is wreaked on a community because someone made a bad choice. How is that fair? Repeat after me: Wild animals are not good pets. Want a big cat? Go down to your local shelter or contact a rescue in your area and adopt a Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cat, or some other domestic cat. Believe me, they’re quite wild enough and you can be reasonably certain they won’t try to kill you, your friends, or your neighbors.

Taking animals like birds and fish from their natural habitat is irresponsible and bad for the environment also in most cases ILLEGAL for a reason. The animals often encounter diseases among humans that they wouldn’t encounter in the wild and therefore have no immunity. Exposure is almost always fatal to the animal. Wild animals don’t adapt well to caged life.

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After Finding Nemo was released, clown fish became so popular as pets that they were taken from the wild at an irresponsible rate. This negatively impacted oceanic ecosystems which have only just started to recover. There’s a large concern among environmentalists and marine biologists that the same will happen to the blue tang after the release of Finding Dory. Removal of any animal from the wild is always detrimental to the ecosystem that animal inhabits. So if you’re going to get a bird or a fish of any kind, do your homework and make sure that they were sourced responsibly and sustainably.

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Two residents of Howling Woods Farm, a rescue for wolf-dog hybrids. Their crate-training lasted about three seconds.

Breeding wild animals with domestic animals is irresponsible. Breeding Servals with domestic cats to create Savannah cats and wolves with dogs are two fairly common examples. You’re not only creating an animal with special needs in terms of space, containment, and enrichment, but also not being honest and up front with people about the needs of the animal and charging top dollar to boot. A wolf-dog hybrid puppy is up to $5,000. FYI: You can’t crate-train a wolf-dog or train the prey drive out of it. If you have something that runs and squeals in your house like a small child, a wolf-dog hybrid is not for you. Rescue a husky, malamute, or German Shepherd. Wild animals are great, but they make terrible pets. The same is true about hybrids.

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Hello, human. You’re probably wondering how I got up here. It’s quite simple: I’m a Savannah Cat.

Keeping a wild-domestic hybrid is only appropriate if you’ve done the research and can provide the right environment. When researching, remember: the breeder is trying to sell you something and people who are trying to sell you something typically withhold information or present it in a very biased way so you’ll buy what they’re selling. Your best resource for information on the needs of any hybrid animal is your local veterinarian. If they can’t tell you everything you need to know, they most likely know someone who can. If you’re not able to provide the right environment and level of care for a wild-domestic hybrid or for any type of animal, please do us all a favor: DON’T GET THAT ANIMAL.

If you’re tired of seeing wild animals suffer and die, get involved. There are hundreds of organizations dedicated to wildlife and conservation. There’s the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund, organizations dedicated to specific habitats like the Ocean Conservancy, and ones dedicated to specific species like Tiger Time. I’m sure any of the organizations out there would be happy to have someone willing to help wildlife stay wild.

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