Exotics as Pets
Black Pine Animal Sanctuary is one of a couple of dozen across the nation that are dedicated to providing permanent refuge to displaced former "pets" and "performers". We take in only "exotic" animals - those that have not been domesticated over hundreds or thousands of years.
Each year we sadly turn away down dozens of exotic animals in need of refuge because we, like our peers, cannot provide for all in need due to lack of adequate space and funds. Unfortunately, every day, ignorant people make poor decisions to try to keep animals that don't make good pets and that they are ill-equipped to provide proper care. Many breeders and pet stores whose livelihood comes from the sale of these animals do not properly educate potential owners of what they are about to undertake. To do so would limit their ability to sell and make profits.
The following information is offered to help educate those who are seriously considering owning an exotic animal as "pet", and those trying to help exotic animals in need. The realities of life for someone who invites exotic animals into their extended family are often shocking, overwhelming, and can even become unbearable.
Please, if you or someone you know has any intention of acquiring an exotic animal - a tiger, tortoise, bobcat, snake, beautiful tropical bird, bear, or other non-domestic animal - read on and take our GOOD LIFE quiz. We hope it sheds light and helps people make informed decisions, decisions that will ensure each and every animal lives a healthy, enriched life:
G How much will this animal Grow?
O How Old can this animal live to be?
O Will this animal create Odors I won't like?
D What kind of Diet does this animal require?
L Can this animal be Lethal to me and others?
I Is it Illegal for me to own this animal?
F Just how much Fun will it really be to own this animal?
E What are the Environmental requirements for this animal?
Though white tigers are very popular, they only occur after breeding to Bengal tigers with a recessive gene. They are not their own species, as some think. It is believed that every white tiger living in captivity today descended from a single tiger that carried the recessive gene, and all born since are the products of in-breeding.
Those who breed white tigers do so for profit. They must keep breeding fathers to daughters, fathers to granddaughters, and so on in order to produce even a small number. Many born are not white, or don't have enough of the light coat to meet the 'curiousity' expectation of their keepers, and are therefore "worthless". Many genetic problems are seen in these cats, including cleft palates, scoliosis of the spine, mental impairments and crossed eyes.
In many zoos and breeding facilities, many cubs are put down due to malformations at birth. When cross-bred with other species of tigers, even more genetic problems can occur. Breeders and exhibitors who continue producing these "freaks" of nature do so for money. The genetic quality of such cats are not viable for saving the endangered wild Bengal tiger. None are used in any species survival plans. Largely, it is the continued breeding of white tigers - and the production of non-white tigers, that has led to an overpopulation of big cats in back yards around America. Many believe there are perhaps as many as 15,000 tigers living in the private sector.
Despite these facts, many Americans will be drawn in to public exhibits that claim "education", yet share none of these facts. To do so would end the ability to profit off such exhibits. Black Pine urges all who care about tigers to become educated, and to carefully select what types of exhibits they support - or don't.