We Need To Stop Normalizing Exotic Pets

By Toby Tunwase

A lion cub may appear cute and quite cuddly, but that is no reason to want to have it at home. The same is true for some reptiles, chimpanzees, and other nontraditional pets. While most people recognize that owning an exotic pet is wrong, the internet nowadays encourages the ownership of these animals. This is a concern for scientists.

Image: Shutterstock

It is either illegal or very restricted to trade wild animals and keep them as pets in many countries. However, if you go on YouTube, you can see hundreds of videos with people cuddling and petting their very own exotic pets.

What worries scientists is that this seems to normalize the ownership of exotic pets, some of which are endangered species. It is not just that people consider those situations and interactions normal, but they also see them as desirable.

There are several rules and policies on YouTube that govern what videos can be uploaded to it. However, there is no way for YouTube to know something as technical as the distress signals of a tiger being kept as a pet. Many times, these videos contain them and other things that zoologists and others find truly disturbing. Moreover, these videos may negatively impact conservation efforts and encourage the trade of these pets – illegally. 

Image: Shutterstock

The ownership of exotic pets should not be desired or seen as a symbol of wealth. Facilities with well-trained professionals are the best place for exotic animals to live, not in people’s homes. Hopefully, the internet will eventually realize that those videos are problematic.