Is there an argument for keeping exotic animals in captivity? As activists for the protection of endangered species our knee jerk reaction is a resounding NO! But, perhaps we should be our own devil’s advocate regarding this issue.
Without quoting the stats it is mind boggling how many species are reported to go extinct every year. Many are protected species, but this does nothing to prevent them from being driven out by progress or falling prey to poaching. Of course they should be protected, and we agree they deserve life free in their natural habitat. But realistically, this is not always possible.
It is too late to argue in defense of a species once it is gone. And citing the loss of that species as reason to protect other species is proving to be a losing battle. We may need to consider the possibility that some measures should be taken to keep those species most at risk for extinction in captivity for the sake of their survival.
Every region of the world now has hundreds, if not thousands, of species on the brink of being lost forever due to poaching or encroaching progress as their habitats are consumed for resources and livestock. Wildlife advocates admit protecting these endangered species is a costly and all but a losing battle.
The Mississippi Panther is believed to have been hunted to extinction. It is quite possible the one we saved as a cub on the roadside when her mother was killed by a car could have been the last one. We sent her to the zoo where she lived out her days with no mate ever found for her. Certainly this beautiful creature should have been allowed to live in its habitat protected. But they did pose a risk to livestock which was the primary reason for their being hunted. Perhaps had we kept two in captivity the species would have been saved.
We have crossed beyond worse case scenario regarding the state of many endangered species on our planet. It may be time we took a reassessment how we hope to save them. We are aware of the areas of the world where they are being encroached upon and slaughtered. If we cannot effectively protect their numbers in the wild, captivity to preserve only a few may be our last and only hope.