Animal Welfare: Captive Wildlife
In both A Door into Ocean and The Highest Frontier, humans have to manage wildlife. But how should we do that? Should private ownership be allowed? How do we prevent what happened in Zanesville, Ohio?
My friend Frank Branchini,* with much experience of animal welfare, says:
“There are two huge issues regarding private ownership of captive wildlife: animal welfare and safety. There is little or no regulation of the care of captive wildlife under private ownership. Animals need veterinary care. Who provides it for captive wildlife?
“There are no standards for cage size. There are no standards for what kind of stimulation the owners need to provide for the captive wildlife. There are no standards to require owners to provide adequate heating from animals from the tropics that might be housed in Ohio, or adequate shelter from the heat for polar bears that someone might have in an outside enclosure during the summer.
“And the safety concerns are off the charts. As we have seen, when these animals get out they are a huge threat to public safety. I lived just three doors down from a park in Maryland in a densely populated suburban neighborhood. That park is very heavily used by walkers, joggers, and dog walkers. While I lived there someone who lived directly across the park from my house had a venomous Indian cobra which got loose. It may have gone into the park. Officials from the National Zoo said that it would not be safe to assume that the cobra would die outside during the winter, and if the cobra were pregnant there was a good possibility that cobras could establish themselves in the park.”
What regulations should there be for ownership of captive wildlife?
*Frank Caesar Branchini has served as Executive of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Anne Arundel County, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Baltimore County, Volunteer and Events Coordinator at Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, and Vice-President of the Professional Animal Workers of Maryland, and is a current member of the Board of Directors of Maryland Votes for Animals. The views expressed are his own.