Ban private ownership
Your Dec. 26 article on the many exotic animals living in backyard cages in Florida reported that 22 states ban the private ownership of lions, tigers and other exotic wildlife. It's high time Florida joined those states.
Perhaps the most persuasive argument in support of a ban is that of public safety; witness the tiger that recently escaped its cage at the San Francisco Zoo and killed a visitor. Many of the exotic animals owned by private citizens in Florida can never be tamed or domesticated and will always pose a threat to their owners and neighbors.
But there are compelling moral and ethical arguments, as well. I believe every animal was created by God to have a distinct, individual purpose on this planet. Related to this purpose is a distinct nature and set of behaviors. Clearly a lion was created to be a lion, to exhibit all aspects of "lion-ness"-- to roam, to hunt, to patrol the pride's territory, to groom itself and its pride-mates, to mate and raise young.
Surely we can see that keeping wild creatures penned up in small (or even large) cages thoroughly thwarts and frustrates their ability to fulfill their distinct, God-created purposes. No matter how well-intentioned the owners or how well they purport to "take care" of their exotic charges, a wild animal cannot possibly feel satisfied or content in a backyard cage. Too many aspects of its intrinsic nature are completely denied in such an unnatural setting.
Furthermore, there's no convincing need for private citizens to keep such animals -- no reasoning that trumps these moral and ethical considerations.
We can do better. We can outlaw the private ownership of exotic animals, and then work to ensure that wild habitats are preserved so that animals can fulfill their God-given purposes in their natural environments.
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