*But They're So Cute!*
I do not support or condone the exotic pet trade industry. Animals such as large cats, primates, and bears are kept as status symbols, and they suffer from our selfish behavior. As a tribute to the animals I have worked with, I would like to share the stories of some victims.
Valerie came to the Nature Center as a juvenile. She is a cross between a Western and a South American cougar and can be seen in the first two pictures. Satch came to the Nature Center as juvenile, as well. He is a Western cougar and can be seen in the last two pictures. Both were raised in captivity and were imprinted, which means they were used to human contact and could not survive in the wild. Both cougars were declawed and had their canine teeth capped prior to coming to the Nature Center. Due to the procedure that was done on their canine teeth, both were susceptible to chronic abscesses. Valerie got more than her fair share and frequently had to take antibiotics.
Zero came to the Nature Center when he was a cub. Hunters shot and killed his mother and decided to keep him as a pet in their backyard. They fed him junk food, and by the time he was confiscated and taken to a vet, he was given zero chance of survival, hence the name. Zero survived, though, and lived to be 15+ years old. We were verbally accosted from visitors who blamed us for not releasing him. Zero was imprinted by the hunters. He never could have survived in the wild, and if he had not been taken in by the Nature Center, he would have been euthanized.
Ursa came to the Nature Center as a juvenile. She came from deplorable conditions at a nearby theme park. We were shocked to learn that Ursa came from a roadside zoo prior to being kept at the theme park. To have been through so much neglect and abuse, Ursa is incredibly sweet.
Candi came to the Nature Center as a juvenile. Her previous owner claimed that he thought she was a stray dog. He fed her a poor diet, and as a result, she had swollen joints on her front legs. She had to undergo several anti-inflammatory treatments.
Even adorable Rosebud is a victim. He came to the Nature Center after being left to die in an abandoned car. His scent glands had been removed so he could become someone's pet. Rosebud is a difficult case. He craves the attention that would be given to a household pet, but he is not a pet. He is a wild animal that cannot be released because he is defenseless and imprinted. We try to provide Rosebud with enrichment, but he exhibits the pacing behavior.
©2011 Credit is given where credit is due.