What Are the Ethical Considerations to Owning a Wild Animal?

M. Scott Echols, DVM, ABVP, owner of Echols Veterinary Services, discusses some key ethicals considerations to owning a wild animal.
Published Online: Thursday, October 13, 2016
American Veterinarian Editorial Staff


M. Scott Echols, DVM, ABVP, owner of Echols Veterinary Services, discusses some key ethicals considerations to owning a wild animal.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“It’s not an easy question to answer. If I were going to answer the simple side of it is to say that, if you are going to keep a wild animal, really any animal, I think we should provide for its welfare, and that includes a proper diet, proper housing, [and] a proper behavioral set-up so that it’s emotional state can be taken care of. The reason that it is difficult to determine what those values are for a wild animal is because oftentimes, we do not know. We are asking a wild animal to live in our world. That is difficult for us to do and it is also difficult for some wild animals to adapt to our world. What we are trying to figure out is [if we can] allow for that animal to perform species-specific behaviors. That is one way we determine [if we are] providing for this animal’s welfare. Because if that animal is acting as we would expect in a wild environment—doing normal behaviors as oppose to self-destructive behaviors or clearly abnormal behaviors, then we are getting close to that welfare aspect that we are looking for.”
 

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