Exotic pets affect animal health, safety and welfare

White-faced monkey from the Santa Ana refuge, in Costa Rica |  Source: Sofia Henales
White-faced monkey from the Santa Ana refuge, in Costa Rica | Source: Sofia Henales


Given the abandonment of exotic animals, the collection centers exceed their capacity

Cats, large birds, or reptiles with shells and scales. Everyone can be part of our family. Although, sometimes, their vital needs clash with the conditions that we can offer them at home.

Despite the fact that there are some records that specify the animals that cannot be kept at home, in Spain it is possible to house any type of animal, as long as it comes from captivity, not from nature. Thus, you can have, for example, an ocelot or a skunk. To limit the keeping of exotic animals as pets, three NGO: AAP Primadomus, the Foundation for Advice and Action in Defense of Animals (FAADA) and the National Association for the Defense of Animals (ANDA), have created the Coalition for Positive Listinga project to define what is allowed to have at home.


The idea of ​​caring for a different animal draws a lot of attention from the population, but they are unaware of the problems it entails an exotic at homeas well as the necessary maintenance. This is what most homeowners say to Gladys Freginals, who runs the Ave Fénix collection center. At his business, which does not receive aid or subsidies from the State, the birds arrive for different reasons, including abandonment, because their owners are bothered by screaming, because it is expensive to keep them, both in terms of food and veterinarian care, or due to marriage separations. . Losing your job, going to live outside of Spain, the animal getting old or no longer being “nice”, are other reasons to get rid of it.

Talkative parrot from the Santa Ana refuge, in Costa Rica |  Source: Sofia Henales
Talkative parrot from the Santa Ana refuge, in Costa Rica | Source: Sofia Henales

Whether they are unaware or not, many of them arrive with problems: “They kick them in the cages to make them shut up, they come without feathers from stress and poor nutrition, and sometimes we have even received birds in cages full of shit,” he recounted. Freginals. Once they recover, it is also hard to find a home suitable for larger species, since “a large part of the owners do not meet the optimal conditions that the animal needs”, pointed out the director.

One of the driving forces of the Coalition for the Positive List, AAP Primadomus, also takes care of exotic animals, in this case mammals. Their origin is diverse: many come from the world of entertainment, mainly circuses, and others from private possession and illegal trafficking, as detailed by the person in charge of public policies of this organization, Marta Merchan.

Ocelot in the refuge of Santa Ana, in Costa Rica |  Source: Sofia Henales
Ocelot in the refuge of Santa Ana, in Costa Rica | Source: Sofia Henales

But having these animals at home creates inconveniences, as Merchán has indicated: «On the one hand there is their wellness, because a large percentage of cases are not suitable for life in captivity. No matter how well-intentioned the owner may have, they will never be able to satisfy their needs in a domestic environment, no matter how big or small they are. On the other hand, “these fashions” generate other disadvantages, for the citizen security and for the public, since “they can bite or cause damage.” In addition, they can be bridges of disease transmissionand if they end up in nature and adapt, become an invasive species.

In Costa Rica

This situation is not happening only in Spain, but in many countries. One of them is Costa Ricawhich houses a 5% of the biodiversity of the planet. There, the illegal trade and the possession of inappropriate animals for the home, make shelters like the one in Santa Ana, near the capital, San José, are overcrowded.

In addition to the Brazilian marmosets and white-faced monkeys, this center cares mammals very diverse, highlighting two ocelots and a sloth. But the most abundant animals are the reptilesand specifically the turtleswhich come mostly from the abandonment of their owners.

In a similar proportion to reptiles, the Santa Ana refuge takes care of the birds. The species are very diverse, given the great variety of feathered animals that concentrate Costa Rican environments, among which are toucans, macaws and green macaws. However, the specimens of talking parrots They are the most common in this enclosure, because their owners “have gotten tired of them” or “they bother them.”

Having exotic animals at home “is a whim”, they recognize from the protectors. For this reason, they ask for responsibility and reflection before adopting them, and, in case of doing so, to gather the optimal conditions to guarantee their well-being.

Video source: Sofía Henales López

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