Exotic species such as lions, tigers, servals, kinkajous and leopards are dangerous wild animals. They may be cute and easily maintained when they are small babies, but soon they grow up to be predators. A four or five hundred pound tiger or even the forty pound caracal could eaily kill a human while just playing or if angered. Without proper training and sufficient resources many of these pets are eventually surrendered to sanctuaries or sold for entertainment. These creatures belong in the wild and protected, they should not be exploited or kept as pets. Conservation efforts and community support are important ways of saving these amazing creatures from cruelty and exploitation. I learned a great deal about the various species and life stories of the rescues during my service trip to the Carolina Tiger Rescue .
Reasons why they are not pets:
Firstly, they are wild, dangerous, and expensive to care for. They require lots of exercise, a suitable habitat, enrichment, stimulation, a safe enclosure, a place to sleep that is warm and dry, fresh food and water daily.
- Caracals can jump ten feet into the air and take down gazelle that are three times their size. Humans, esepcially children, are easy targets for a full grown caracal.
- The Kinkajou is a small, and very fluffy and cute, relative of the racoon. They use their long tails to aide in climbing as they spend most of their time in the trees. These nocturnal creatures are frightened easily and have extrmely sharp claws and teeth to fend off attackers. They typically will attack the face and genital areas.
- Servals are another exotic cat species that are often taken as pets. While they are a lot smaller than tigers or lions, these cats are still dangerous. They are solitary and known to be aggressive. They are poached and humans are destroying their habitat.
- Cougars are a larger cat weighing in at 130-290 lbs. While they may be large to us, these cats can actually purr like the common house cat. However, their massive paws and sheer size are enough to demonstrate the power behind the cute face. They are solitary animals and are known to ambush their prey. I have had my house cat leap onto my head from the top of the refrigerator, now imagine that happening when the cat is a 250lb predator.
- Leopards are beautiful cats that are strong enough to drag prey into the trees where they spend much of their time. This strategy is adaptive becuase it prevents hyenas from stealing the catch and also the leaopard is safe from a ground attack from the other large cat species like tigers and lions that share their habitat. A leopard as a pet will most likely never able to climb high into the trees like its free counterparts. Without proper excersize or enrichment the cat will experience frustration and/or display aggression.
- Tigers are massive creatures that can chew through bones. The paws can get as large as a humans face and they can weigh over 500lbs. They crouch in the tall grasses and stalk their prey, often it is too late to react when they attack. White bengal tigers all share a single ancestor and the inbreeding that humans forced has caused those with this recessive gene to also inherit disadvantageous genes that cause disabilites and birth defects.
- Lions are as large as and sometimes larger than tigers, powerful, aggressive, and deadly. They live in large prides and the females hunt in groups. By taking a lion into the home you are separating it from the pride, forcing it into solitude. The natural instinct to hunt and anxiety from lonliness induces aggressive behaviors that can lead to the death of the owner and lion.
Separating animals from their natural habitat forces them into an unsuitable environment, lacking in stimulation, exercise, and socialization. Natural insticts are punished and when the creatures become too aggressive or big to handle they are dumped at sanctuaries, if the animal is lucky, or sold to those who would further mistreat them. This is true for all wild animals that are exploited. They are not domestic species but have been stolen from their homes to be pets, trophies, and entertainment for humans who do not understand their natural lifestyle.
Abuse and Fear
There are many sanctuaries that help and save wild animals from cruel fates. But what is done to those who had previously ‘owned’ these wild creatures? As dangerous and exotic creatures they make attractions more appealing to guests. Tigers jumping through hoops of fire. Elephants forced to carry people on their backs all day at amusment parks and zoos to be forced into a small cage at the end of the day. They are whipped and beaten if they disobey. Orcas have been a center stage species for Seaworld until recently when their small enclosures and poor living conditions caused enough stress that a whale killed a trainer. Since that event in 2010, many advocates have come forward to end the orca shows and get justice for the maltreatment of these captive orcas . Many steps have already been made, but progress has been slow in changing the minds of the people and legislators.
Many of the servals that were rescued at the Carolina Tiger Rescue were dropped off becuase owners realized that they were not fit to be pets. Others came from zoos that no longer met regulations after the Zanesville, Ohio tragedy. Sebastion the lion is a rescue from a haunted house attraction along with a tiger and wolves. The flashing lights, loud noises, and fog machines created a stressful and terrifying home for these animals. These are just some stories behind these magnificent creatures and why owning them is cruel.
To learn more about helping exotics and fighting for animal rights go to: https://carolinatigerrescue.org/
 Howard, Brian Clark. “Controversial SeaWorld Orca Shows End in California, but Continue Elsewhere.” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, 4 Jan. 2017, news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/seaworld-final-orca-show-california-killer-whales/#close.