CAPS maintains its position on the keeping of exotic animals based on the following:
Ethics: Exotic animals are not domesticated – they remain wild, and thus keeping them in captivity to fulfil our curiosity and amusement denies them the opportunity to live out their natural life without human interference. This ethical stance is particularly important in educating children and young people that animals are not ours to manipulate as we see fit and that their lives have in inherent value in their own right.
Welfare: By virtue of the fact that exotic animals are not domesticated, we maintain that captivity cannot meet exotic animals’ physical, social, behavioural and emotional needs and thus the welfare of exotic animals kept as pets is severely compromised.
Conservation: The exotic pet trade undermines valuable conservation efforts in native habitat countries. Whilst many exotic pets are bred in this country specifically for the pet trade, some are taken from the wild. True to the laws of economics, whilst the demand remains, supply will rush to meet it. Examples of the devastating effect of the pet trade on wild species include the Barbary macaque (macaca sylvanus) and the clown fish (amphiprion percula). In many native habitat countries, the keeping of the country’s own wildlife as pets is illegal. For the UK to be taken seriously in the global conservation community, we maintain that we cannot be seen to be allowing this trade to continue in our own country.
As our newest campaign cause, our work in combating the exotic pet trade is an area of our work that is expanding quickly and we hope our successes will grow as we focus more on this important issue.
We have compiled comprehensive research on the primate pet trade in order to support partner organisations in lobbying government decision makers on changes in legislation.
We are increasingly called upon to offer expert opinion in the media and in professional forums against the exotic pet trade
Using the current trend of meerkats as a focus, we will continue to campaign against the exotic pet trade in this country. We hope that the trade in meerkats can be stemmed before it begins to threaten this species with the same fate that clown fish suffered following the craze to own them as pets (removal from the wild led to experts recommending that they be classed as endangered), or the mass release of terrapins into non-native habitat following the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” series and films in the 1980s which has subsequently been blamed for having an adverse affect on waterfowl and wildlife.
Looking at each stage in the trade from cause to ultimate effect is important in educating the general public and raising awareness of the issues surrounding the trade.