Wild Animals As Pets

When I was a kid there was an exotic pet shop in Rocky Hill on the Silas Deane Highway.  They sold de-scented skunks.  I BEGGED my mother for one.  I wanted one SO badly!  Imagine that – having a wild animal as a PET!!! How COOL would THAT be!  Well, Mom said no and that was that.


Then there was this animal shelter that had spider monkeys!  I BEGGED my mother to let me get one.  How COOL would THAT be to have a MONKEY!!!  Mom said no.


So maybe Mom DID know best because a few years later ALL wild animals were banned for sale to private citizens.  The state said no more and that was that.  No more skunks being sold at pet stores and no more spider monkeys, either.


So recently, we’ve heard about a chimp named Travis who attacked his owner’s friend and everyone is wondering just HOW could this woman, a private citizen, be allowed to have a chimp????  Well, as it turns out she was authorized by the USDA and the Department of Environmental Protection to keep Travis after the laws changed about private citizens having wild animals as pets because she already HAD Travis.  She had all the permits, etc., that she needed to legally have Travis.  She had been inspected and accredited and was legally able to keep him. 

Now what about wildlife rehabilitators?  THEY have wild animals and THEY’RE private citizens?  Well, rehabilitators are just that – rehabilitators.  The idea is not to KEEP the animal, it is to make it well and release it back into the wild.  Those that can not be released are turned over to licensed nature centers and zoos.  And rehabilitators are also licensed by the state Department of Environmental Protection.


But WHY do wild animals not make good pets?  Simple – wild is wild.  It doesn’t matter that a wild animal was hand raised since infancy in a domesticated environment.  The fact is that a wild animal will ALWAYS have wild animal tendencies and at some point in its life it will show those tendencies.  It’s usually around the time that the animal goes through puberty and becomes sexually mature that these tendencies come to light.


Even animals such as Wolf Hybrids (crosses between wolves and dogs) are illegal, and with good reason.  They will show wolf tendencies and will most likely get themselves into trouble at some point.


Now if the aforementioned information doesn’t convince you that it’s a bad idea to keep a wild animal as a pet, remember this…. The fine for keeping a wild animal (and not being a licensed wildlife rehabilitator) is $100.00 per day, PER ANIMAL.




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