Sunday, August 22, 2010

Domestication Of Wild Animals-Desirable or Undesirable?

Mark Duncan / AP
Razor wire tops an enclosure at an exotic animal farm Friday in Columbia Station, Ohio, where a 24-year-old man was mauled by a bear Thursday night. The sheriff's office says the bear is owned by Sam Mazzola, who at one time offered people the chance to wrestle a black bear at a Cleveland expo.

"Bear mauls caretaker to death in Ohio"-

This article published in the Associated Press is about Brent Kandra, who was attacked and killed by a bear called Cherokee, he used to take care of. The bear was owned by Sam Mazzola.He talked about it on "Good Morning America"

"The particular bear was his favorite bear. It was one that he basically raised," Mazzola said. "Every time he was around him, that was the first bear he ran up to and said hi to, and I mean they knew each other very well."

Going by  news reports, it is evident that Mr. Mazzola did not have quite a clean record in keeping wild and exotic  animals in captivity. He would reportedly exhibit his animals without a license and even invite the public to wrestle his animals, by which the animals would get badly beaten up and injured.
This report raises a crucial question as to whether wild animals should be brought into human premises and be domesticated as per 'human' standards.
Through this video and the news reports, it emerges that keeping wild animals as pets is not just dangerous for the people living in the vicinity, but the animals themselves pose a threat to their own lives, particularly if the owner is not adept at taking proper care of them.
Looking at the opposing point of view, there were people who defended Mazzola and termed his efforts (in catching and keeping wild animals) as ''rescue'' operations. Agreed that his intentions may have been well meaning. But how he follows them up is important. In trying to save the animals and give them a better life, if he unknowingly makes it more difficult for them to reside and adjust in 'alien' human territories and also makes living in that neighbourhood, risky for the people, then what's the use?

As I researched more on domestication of wild animals, I found to my surprise, that it is a phenomenon that has been prevalent for long time and is more commonly occurring than I had expected. Did you know for instance, that certain varieties of dogs we keep as pets, are a result of domestication of wild wolves? Do go through this article with a Charles Darwin's analysis on the topic. It is quite illuminating!

So wild animals have been domesticated in the past, being domesticated in the present and may be continued to be domesticated in the future. In doing so, we may have certain 'side effects', like tampering with their personalities and getting an evolved form( wild wolves->pet dogs) or a danger to the human community (a la mazzola's example). The animals may even pose health or physical hazards to themseves if they are unable to adjust!
Ideally hence, one has to weigh the pros and cons well before domesticating the wild pet. If you really want to rescue the animals, there has to be proper legislation for it, regulating by who, how and where the animals are to be kept. Else, the animals are best left the way Nature intends them to the wild, by themseves and without human interference!  

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