Yes, we all love a gold star cat social media video. Domestic cats are loveable, silly and often quite human-like in their behaviours and vocals. However, where do we draw the line when it comes to big cat viral videos?
Big cat and human videos online have caught the hearts and imaginations of millions of viewers. As an online user who wants to be entertained, we only see the big fluffy cuteness of a big cat rather than the actual implications of a big cat and human interaction like this could have. In recent years, we have seen the demand for big cats as domestic pets exponentially grow and social media could have a large role to play in this.
Good zoos in the UK and across the world make a specific point to highlight the wrongdoings of keeping exotic animals as pets. It takes a high level of specialist care and knowledge to provide excellent welfare to these animals while keeping yourself safe. This is why we hire expert, qualified and experienced zookeepers at Paradise Wildlife Park. Additional training is also required for the keeping of big cats.
Our Deputy Head of Large Carnivores, Cassie, comments: “Keeping big cats as pets is never a good idea. They are unpredictable, large, and powerful predators. Zookeepers train for many years to gain all of the skills and knowledge necessary to provide proper care for big cats so that they are happy and healthy. There are many protocols in place to ensure that both animal and keeper is kept safe.”
Although Cassie’s words are wise and informed, there are cases where big cat owners are not so dutiful. Sadly, there are many tragic stories where big cats and private owners are harmed or killed due to the mismanagement or unsafe keeping of big cats. Dr. Kim Haddad, veterinarian and manager of the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition says: “It’s a huge public safety risk that is 100% preventable. The solution is so easy. You just cannot have these animals as pets.” This is an instance where Paradise Wildlife Park would agree with certain animal rights activist groups. We believe any exotic animal should not be kept by people who are unlicensed, not properly trained or cannot provide the level of welfare the animals deserve.
So, in a nutshell, big cats should not be kept as pets. They should not be able to roam in your home or back garden, nor should they be housed in poor conditions. If big cats are to be in captivity, they should be in a fully licensed, good zoo. Paradise Wildlife Park is part of BIAZA, a governing body of zoos that all meet excellent standards outlined by the government and BIAZA. We are proud that Paradise Wildlife Park has outstanding keepers who dedicate their lives to our animals’ welfare. Our Lion Pridelands habitat won a BIAZA Award in 2020 for its focus on animal welfare and habitat design.
If you would like to visit our lions, Amur tigers and snow leopards, as well as the other animals that live at Paradise, make sure you book your tickets online. We look forward to seeing you!