Short answer: No.
Did you know capybaras have over 6.8 billion views on TikTok? While you may love seeing a cute animal video, having a wild pet might not be a good idea!
Why do people post animal videos?
On social media, some users are showing wild animals as a part of documenting their rehabilitation efforts. Others may be keeping wild animals as pets in their homes, or are looking for internet fame.
Why do we feel so strongly when we see cute animals online?
First of all, it’s totally normal to think an animal you see online is cute! There are even psychological reasons why this happens.
According to a National Geographic article, a caption that “humanizes” an animal can create a stronger connection with an audience. This is because people assign human-like traits and thoughts to these creatures.
Animals can also trigger our caring instinct! Axolotls, for example, could activate our care-giving drive because their big heads and large eyes remind us of human babies. And even though sloths are not constantly “smiling”, it’s very common to see their fur pattern as a big grin.
When we see an expensive wild animal online, we may also be triggered by something else: social status. Some people feel having a rare pet is a sign of wealth, and they want to show off.
What to consider when you’re tempted to buy a wild animal
If you see a wild animal online, it’s important to consider the well-being of the animal before looking for someone who would sell you one. Consider what kind of life you could give the animal, or if owning the animal is even legal.
Exotic animals may be calm when they are small, but they could become harder to keep as they grow. When you keep a wild animal as a pet, you may not simply be able to release it into the wild when it gets older. This is what probably happened to this abandoned pet alligator who grew too large.
Finding an animal sanctuary for your wild pet can be hard, especially if you don’t live in an area where that animal thrives naturally. You wouldn’t want to unintentionally harm an animal you love!
Additionally, the poachers who capture wild animals to sell are often destroying whole families in the process. They may be taking eggs out of nests or ripping baby monkeys from their mothers. We know nobody wants to have a pet that way!
Former pets at Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center
A number of animals here at Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center cannot be released into the wild because of the human contact they have had. Guapo, our resident Jaguar, had too much contact with humans as a cub. Monkeys kept as pets, like Celeste, didn’t get to climb trees for most of their young life.
In short: If you want wild animals to have a good life, let them stay wild!
You can find other ways to appreciate and care for them, like by interning or volunteering with us in Costa Rica!
** Written by volunteer Lisa Martens