HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT A TIGER LIVING IN THE APARTMENT NEXT DOOR?
The discovery of a 400-pound (180 kilograms), not fully grown, Siberian-Bengal tiger mix living in a New York apartment has leaded animal welfare organizations to call for a ban on private ownership of big cats. The tiger has been placed in an Ohio sanctuary.
Keeping big cats as pets is something quite common in the United States of America. It is estimated that there is a big cat every 34 kilometers depending on the number of animals recordered and the total surface of America. People who own pet big cats include low-income families, high-income families, and teenagers who want them as graduation presents but they do not understand what keeping a dangerous exotic animal means. In some cases the animals have been abused and kept in horrid conditions. Yet even caring owners are not always able to meet the cats’ needs: adequate space, a balanced and expencive diet, stimulating activities and vet assistance.
Lack of uniform federal regulation is a matter of ongoing debate, because these exotic animals have wild instincts that are not likely to be diminished through captivity or training. Six states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Nevada, Alabama and West Virginia) place no restrictions on owning a tiger; 14 states require a permit; and 30 states prohibit ownership. Most of the times there are no federal registers required so the number of big cats in the U.S. is not sure. The molst sold are tigers and the countries where there are most big cats are Florida and Texas. Organisations estimate that there may be as many as 400 to 500 lions, tigers, and other big cats in the Houston area. The breeders are allowed to operate after passing an inspection and paying a fee to be issued a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). They often mix the breeds to create new, bigger and more good looking big cats that are sold “on demand” in common pet stores.
Owners often abandon them in residential areas, after hearing about an exotic pet attack or for finantial problems, so the animals get in the best of the cases captured and moved to a zoo or a sanctuary or in the worst of them they get killed to guarantee the safety of the citizens. Placing the big cats into zoos is not a solution. Most zoos do not accept animals without a clear genetic background, something that the privately bred cats generally lack, and captive-bred cats cannot be returned to the wild.
Animalists are concerned that the problem will grow unless new regulations are introduced or other action is taken to restrict the trend. This is not just an animal problem, this is a problem that affects people that get attacked, mauled or eaven killed by their wild pets.