Imagine YOU are strolling along in nature enjoying the scenery and just living life to the fullest. A UFO goes by, and you freeze. You are trying to blend into the scenery. But the alien in charge says, “Hey, do y’all see that? I bet she’d make a great house pet. My grandma used to have one.” The alien scoops you up and comments that you sure are docile. He wrongly assumes that must mean you like him, and you are bonding with him.
Next thing you know you are put in cage. You are fed freeze dried food that you have never had before. Food that is nothing like what you are used to eating and they give you a little dish of water. The alien and his family watch you as you try to adjust to your new home. They have fun tapping on your cage to startle you to make you look at them.
After a while the aliens don’t even try to take you out of the cage. Although you were docile when they took you, lately you have become more alert, and you try to run away when they take you out. They are also afraid you might bite them. Again.
The aliens don’t really know how to take care of you. They had a couple of specimens like you before that only lived for a little while. They have seen people on social media with species like you. But the aliens don’t want to let you go back into your natural habitat just yet. They love having you. They love showing you to their friends. If they are not careful, they are going to love you to death.
Eventually you protest enough until they get frustrated and dump you. They choose a spot they think looks suitable, but you do not know much about their world. They have taken you far away from where they found you. Sadly, at this point you have lost your survival skills. You are not in the best health. You have not been around your kind in so long that when you finally do find another like you, they shun you because you smell different.
You do not act right anymore. You look the same, but you just don’t belong, and you are now seen as an intruder. An intruder with zero survival skills. If you can acclimate with others like you again and not starve to death you might live when you are released. Hopefully you didn’t pick up any deadly germs while you were held captive. The stress of being relocated could also kill you. Unfortunately, the odds are not in your favor.
Does this sound a little too Science-Fiction for an article about wildlife rescue? Think again. This is often what happens when a human decides to remove a wild animal from its natural habitat and keep it as a pet or to “save” it from the wild.
Recently we were tagged in several social media posts from folks who needed help identifying a certain species or asking if they need to do anything to help the animal out. In each post there was that one person who commented about catching the animal and keeping it as a pet or to “save” it from its surroundings.
A lot of our readers know how we feel about captive wildlife. It’s just not humane. Keeping an animal in a cage because you think it’s a neat pet or because you think that is what is best for the animal is cruel.
There is no such thing as saving a healthy, thriving wild animal from the wild. Ever.
If you find an animal that you believe needs help you should contact a wildlife rescue BEFORE you save the animal. Wildlife rescues will ask important questions to help us know if the animal truly needs help. We can tell you how to reunite babies with their moms and we can tell you how to safely capture and transport an animal that needs help. We can make sure you find a rescue that has experience with the species you found.
A huge responsibility of wildlife rescue is to know when to leave Mother Nature alone. This does not mean to ‘let nature take its course.’ It simply means to allow wild moms to retrieve their babies, to leave fawns where their moms parked them, and to recognize that a fledgling bird is on the ground because it is learning to fly and not because it was abandoned. One of the greatest gifts we can give wildlife is not interfering unless we are positive the animal needs our help. It is our responsibility as human beings to know when to leave wildlife alone.