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The Status of Captive Wild Animals in the U.S.: An Overview of the Problem and the Laws

By Nicole Paquette
Source: Animal Law Institute Conference - Dallas, TX

I. Introduction

Imagine being chained to a tree in a backyard for three months, with little food or water, and no hope for someone to find you ... or imagine weighing half the size of your normal body weight, suffering from severe malnutrition and anemia, calcium deficiency and numerous stress fractures ... or worse yet, being beaten repeatedly with a stick until your hide bleeds.

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Exotic Animals and Wildlife

Source: AVMA

Exotic animals and wildlife (skunks, chimpanzees, poisonous snakes, raccoons, etc.) do not make good pets. They can be dangerous. It is illegal to buy or keep them in most states. Owning a young, exotic animal can be a passing fancy. As the animal matures, it can become aggressive and probably will be unhappy in captivity. Owners who find that they can no longer keep an exotic pet usually encounter great difficulty in placing their animals in a new home.

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A Rational Look at Declawing

There are many myths, misunderstandings, and strong opinions about declawing. If you are considering having this surgery done on your cat, or if your veterinarian has suggested it, please take a few minutes to learn about this major surgical procedure before you make a decision.

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Exposing the Myths: The Truth about Trapping

Each year, more than 4 million animals are trapped and killed for their fur in the United States. Millions more are trapped and killed in the name of “livestock” and “game” protection and for “nuisance” animal control. Whatever the purpose, the consequences for the trapped animals are the same — pain, suffering, and death. Proponents argue that traps are humane and selective, and that trapping is tightly regulated, an important source of income for many people, and necessary for managing wildlife. These claims, however, are far from the truth.

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Trapping on National Wildlife Refuges

What is the National Wildlife Refuge System?

Theodore Roosevelt established the first National Wildlife Refuge on Pelican Island, Florida, in 1903 to protect imperiled bird species. Since then, 519 refuges totaling 93 million acres have been added to the refuge system.

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Facts About the Poultry Industry

The average consumer may not be aware of the suffering of billions of birds raised for meat and egg production in the United States each year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Statistics Service reported that 7.07 billion “broiler” chickens, 67 billion “egg” chickens, and 321 million turkeys were killed in 1998 for food. In addition, millions of birds die as a result of disease, injury, and during transportation.

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The Dangers of Possessing Exotic Animals

Source: Animal Issues, Volume 31, Number 2, Summer 2000

  • In June 1999, a 10-year-old girl dies after being brutally attacked by one of her stepfather’s “pet” tigers. The young girl is in the tiger’s cage helping her stepfather groom the animal when the tiger attacks.1
  • In December 1998, a healthy 5 month-old girl suddenly dies at home after contracting salmonella from the family’s pet iguana. The girl has no direct contact with the iguana yet contracts salmonella.2
  • In February 2000, a woman is viciously attacked by her “pet” macaque monkey. The monkey leaps from his open cage onto the woman’s head, and makes gashes 6 inches deep and other cuts to her head, arms, and legs. The woman spends over a week in the hospital and must undergo more than 12 weeks of physical therapy. The monkey has bitten the woman on two other occasions and previously attacked the family dog.3

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Shrine Circuses

Shriners groups across the United States contract with various circus producers to hold circus events on behalf of the Shrine.

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