The problems generated by the exploding exotic pet trade throughout Europe are reaching a tipping point. Rescue centres and sanctuaries simply cannot keep up with the amount of animals in need of help.
In Germany, 30 rescue facilities have joined their voices in a letter to the Agriculture Minister, competent for the regulation of the pet trade, demanding long overdue political action to confront this growing challenge. The director of Munich animal shelter points out that ‘anyone can buy an exotic animal without any knowledge of how to care for them properly’, which eventually leads to animals being neglected and abandoned in rescue facilities which often lack the means and expertise to deal with them. In the past they had to care for coatis, various monkeys and a kangaroo. ‘Our staff is dedicated to and trained in the care of dogs and cats. The inclusion of exotics presents us enormous challenges’.
AAP, which has rescued approximately 200 animals from Germany in the last 15 years, at a cost of 5 million euros, is one of the signatories of the letter.
But Germany is not the only country where this issue risks spinning out of control very soon. In the United Kingdom, where more than 66 species of monkey are allowed to be kept as pets without the need to register or acquire a licence, rescue centre Monkey World has gathered more than 110.000 signatures for the petition ‘Welfare for Wildlife’, which seeks to improve regulation of pet ownership. The petition was recently presented to Downing Street and the subject of a parliamentary debate.
‘Politicians cannot keep looking the other way: the risks associated to uncontrolled exotic pet keeping are too big, for animals, humans and the environment alike,’ says AAP’s CEO David van Gennep. ‘An urgent solution is needed, preferably in the form of positive lists which clearly indicate which animals are suitable as pets and which ones are not. We strongly urge the rest of Europe to follow the example of Belgium and the Netherlands and swiftly move towards implementation of this form of regulation.’