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The Ethical Trading of Exotic Animals
Transcript of The Ethical Trading of Exotic Animals
Ethical Sourcing of Exotic Animals
The Five Animal Needs in Captivity
Why Exotic Animals are Kept in Captivity
Legislation Covering Exotic Animals in Captivity
'Ethical sourcing' means obtaining exotic animals to be kept in captivity in an ethical way. This means it is done in a way which is not harmful to the animal- for example removing a baby monkey from it's mother. Exotic animals may be bred in captivity, or collected from the wild. They may be destined for private collectors, pet shops or zoos.
An exotic animal is one which is not indigenous to the country in which it is kept in captivity. Some examples of exotic animals kept as pets in the UK are:
Birds: parrots, macaws and cockatoos
Fish: Tropical aquarium fish such as angelfish and tetras, pond fish such as koi carp
Amphibians: frogs, toads and newts
Reptiles: snakes, geckos, bearded dragons
Mammals: meerkats, skunks and monkeys
Invertebrates: spiders, ants and stick insects
The need for a suitable environment
The animal/s kept should have enough space to move freely and exercise. Their enclosure should have shelter, a place to rest, access to food and water, be clean and the right temperature. There may be further species-particular needs, eg. a place to swim, climb, fly or bask.
The need for a suitable diet
Captive animals must be fed an appropriate diet in order to keep them healthy. It's not always possible to feed them as they would feed in the wild, but natural diets and patterns should be replicated as closely as possible. Harm can be caused unintentionally by feeding human foods and 'treats' or over/underfeeding. Those fed live food can be injured by food which is too large or aggressive.
The need to exhibit
normal behaviour patterns
This also relates to their environment, diet and social needs. Physical health can be impaired for example through muscle wastage if not able to exercise sufficiently, or teeth and claws growing too long without something to gnaw or claw. Mental health damage can often occur when animals cannot display the behaviours and urges which come naturally such as flying, running or interacting with it's own kind.
Implications of animal sourcing for the pet trade
Collection from the wild
Transport to the UK
Impact on native species
Some species can be collected
from the wild without causing distress
to them, their environment or others of their species.
However this can be a very lucrative trade, often in countries where the human population is very poor, and the potential reward can override concerns for animal welfare. Animals could be taken from their social groups causing mental distress to them or others. Infants could be taken from their mothers possibly before they are ready to survive alone, meaning physical harm is also done. Mothers could even be killed to obtain the more desirable baby. On the other hand, those collecting animals for the pet trade need them to be kept alive and reasonably healthy to make a sale, so
they are arguably better off than those collected
for food, skins or body
parts to make medicine.
Where profit is the main concern,
exotic animals are often transported in conditions which do not meet their five needs. Traders can save a great deal of money packing many animals into a small container, even if some die. Smuggling live animals can be seen as 'worth the risk' against the cost of proper transport and meeting terms of legislation and licensing, according to the country or countries they will enter. These live coral were seized by the UK border force this year as they were undeclared and had no CITES documentation. A trader attempted to send them as air freight from Vietnam to England.
Captive species can
be managed and bred in an
ethical way through breeding registers which ensure conservation of species with genetic diversity. However with animals kept together mistakes can of course happen and inbreeding can result by accident or through ignorance. Unscrupulous breeders can encourage inbreeding to create offspring with 'desirable'
or novel characteristics such as
coat colour or pattern, despite the increased risk of health
problems in the subsequent generations.
The need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
This is another example of exhibiting natural
behaviour. It can be distressing for animals who need
social interaction to spend lots of time alone. Interaction with a human owner cannot always replace others of the same species! Alternatively, one animal could be aggressive towards another and injure or even kill. Monitoring is important to see how pets kept together interact. Even two of the same species could fight for dominance, or injure one another whilst mating. For example many bird species prefer to live in flocks, whilst tortoises prefer to live
alone, in single sex groups, or a single male
with multiple females.
The need to be
protected from pain,
injury and disease
Again the responsibility is on the keeper
to protect their pet. There are many ways in which
they could be harmed. Lizards for example will not feel
pain from a burn and avoid the source, so keepers must ensure heat lamps are safe. Enclosures should be safe and the species taken into consideration- primates in particular will explore everything and could be cut by a sharp cage edge. Other pets kept together should be monitored as mentioned before, and care should be taken so that wild animals such as rats cannot enter as they could attack the pet or spread disease. It goes without saying that animals must not be abused, but harm can come about through ignorance or even good intentions. Feeding human food or 'treats' could be poisonous, overfeeding could cause obesity and related complications. Live food must be of the right type to avoid it attacking the pet, and excess food should be removed before it attracts pests or goes off. It's important to know how to check the health of pets, especially exotics whose natural protective instinct is to mask signs of injury. Owners and keepers should ensure they
can visit a vet with knowledge of their species, which
can be hard with rare exotics. Enclosure
cleaning is another essential to
Dangerous Wild Animal Act 1976
Legislation applies in England!
This is UK statute law, introduced
in the 1970s. It does not apply to zoos, pet shops or other establishments (which have their own legislation) but rather to private
individuals. A fashion had begun for the keeping of exotic pets, and hybrids such as big cats and wolves bred with domestic dogs and cats, which soon raised concerns about the safety of the public should they escape or be released. This act covers species which can be dangerous, and aims to ensure they are kept only by those able to keep them in a safe, secure environment, meet their needs and not cause risk or nuisance to the public. It also allows monitoring of where these animals are kept and by whom. Anyone wanting to keep a DWA listed species must apply to their local authority for a license stating the person/s responsible for the animal/s and where they are kept and any restrictions on their movement. The applicant must prove they meet these criteria and pay a
fee for their license.
Read the act here:
The Convention in International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) in an agreement
between international governments brought into force in 1975, covering over 35,000 species. The aim is to ensure their trade does not threaten survival. It covers not only the trade in exotic pets, but animals and plants used in furs and medicines for example. CITES management authorities of the countries in question issue import/export certificates (requirements vary) only where the species:
Is not at risk of becoming endangered due to this transport
Was obtained legally
Will be transported in a humane way, to "minimize any risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment.
CITES info can be found at http://www.cites.org/
Appendix 1 species are those threatened with extinction. Only in exceptional circumstances can they be traded.
Appendix 2 species are those whose trade must be controlled to protect their usage in ways which could cause them to become endangered.
Appendix 3 species which at least one CITES member
country lists as protected and has requested their
placement on the agreement.
Put into effect in the UK in 2007,
this law not only criminalizes animal abuse, but contains a duty to meet their 5 needs. It also states that no-one aged 16 or under can buy an animal or receive one as a prize. The act also covers prohibited tail docking and arranged animal fights. Anyone not meeting their animal's needs or abusing them faces a ban from owning trading or transporting animals, fines up to £20,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to a year. Before 2006 intervention could only really take place when harm had been caused: this act introduced the duty of care to prevent harm in the first place. All pets are protected by the Animal Welfare Act, not just exotics or endangered species.
Full info can be found here:
The World Health Organization defines zoonoses as "Diseases and
infections which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and man".
The role of this order, made under the Animal Health Act of 1981, is to prevent the spread of communicable disease between animals, between animals and humans and to contain outbreaks. It allows officials to make enquiries into disease occurrence and order testing, and any containment measures deemed necessary. For example, a salmonella outbreak among farmed chickens could result in their destruction and the decontamination of anywhere they were kept or held. It also classifies some conditions as notifiable, meaning cases must be reported to the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA). These include Salmonella and Brucella when detected in animals, with the laboratory performing the test responsible for reporting (source: HPA Guidelines for the Investigation of Zoonotic Disease, 2009). Hygiene and infection control methods, such as washing hands before handling animals and keeping enclosures clean, not only prevents disease being passed from animals to their human keepers, but prevents us from passing on diseases to them which
could do a lot more harm than they do to us; for instance human herpes
can be fatal to some primates
What does this mean for exotic animals in captivity?
The DWA and CITES limit which species of exotic animal may be kept in captivity, and by whom, and regulates and monitors their travel and ownership. Effectively, this ensures that the species protected by these regulations are only kept by those who are capable of doing so in a way that meets their needs. Exotic animals are protected from being exploited, abused, or simply coming to harm from being kept by an unsuitable person. However, there will always be individuals who will find a way to obtain these species or transport them without the correct licenses. That means secrecy is needed- owners of an illegal animal could be unwilling to consult a vet when necessary, and some go to great lengths to smuggle animals when they cannot or will not transport them legally.
The animal welfare act is extremely important for all pets kept in the UK. The duty of care laws affect their welfare positively by allowing authorities to step in before an animal is harmed if they suspect it is at risk. It can be very difficult to know when an exotic animal is at risk though. Concerned neighbours may report sounds of a dog in distress for example but a snake or lizard could not draw attention in this way. Those keeping an exotic pet in unsuitable conditions, or abusing it, would obviously attempt to hide the fact. When detected, the powers to punish can be a great deterrent and banning people from pet ownership should prevent them from being able to cause harm to another animal- or it could drive them to the black market.
The zoonosis order protects animals at risk of becoming infected by communicable diseases. Although animals already infected could be destroyed, they would at least be put out of their misery and the spread of illness could be contained to prevent further animals suffering. It could however be the case that if an owner suspects their pet has a notifiable disease they would not seek treatment, for fear that the vet would have a duty to report the case and their animal could be destroyed.
Although harm, intentional and otherwise, can never be completely prevented in exotic pets (as well as domestic pets and humans too), any legislation aimed at protecting their health and welfare can only be beneficial. If nothing else, it makes people aware of the standards they should meet in taking care of their animal.
Ethical Trading Assignment by Samantha Goddard
BTEC Level 3 in Animal Management
Monkey background photo www.sparklevisions.com
Macaw photo www.exoticpetrefuge.org.uk/animals/38
Tropical fish photo http://aquadaily.com/2008/11/16/tropical-fish-how-to-guide/
Lizard import graph www.rspca.co.uk/in-action/pledges/pledge5
Birds at market photo www.commondreams.org
Internet ad screenshot www.ukclassifieds.co.uk>pets&animals>exotics
Coral photos www.gov.uk/government/news
CITES example lion www.arkive.org (C) Brij Kishor Gupta
CITES example parrot www.arkive.org (C) Jurgen & Christine Sohns
CITES example snapping turtle www.arkive.org (C) T. Kitchin & V. Hurst
All additional photos and video by the author, taken at the Exotic Pet Refuge, Deeping St. James.