Wild Animals as Pets: legal aspects

“If they have wings, let them fly”

There are several videos on internet about funny and cute talking parrots. We love them, they make us laugh and we even want to have one at home, but stop right there!!! Did you know that having wild animals as a pet is illegal? Unless you have the documents and licenses established by law.

In the homes of many people in the world wild animals species abound, the most frequent and beloved is usually the parrot. It would seem that people still don’t know that having parrots, iguanas, turtles and any other unusual pet at home is illegal. Or they know it, but they still have it, being conscious that they are committing an infraction. Not in vain Mahatma Gandhi said: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

Although, there are usually wildlife laws that allow having this type of animals with certain prerequisites, this practice should be eradicated.

The cases in which it is permitted to have a wild animal as a pet, can be for example some species which have been bred in captivity; when it is corroborated that it would be detrimental for them to be released; in cases of domestication or for being with some deficiency. Out of these cases it is not recommended to keep a wild animal as a pet.

It is not easy to have this kind of animals.“They require special care, housing, diet, and maintenance that the average person cannot provide. When in the hands of private individuals the animals suffer due to poor care. They also pose safety and health risks to their possessors and any person coming into contact with them[1]

If you want to have a wild animal as a pet, you must be able to show if asked that you legally own your animal and it’s not captured from the wild. You should keep a record of when and where the animal was found or taken, or a receipt if you bought it. Because wildlife trade without the permission of the authority in charge, is illegal. And people can suffer intervention and also confiscation of the animal.

The Secretariat of the Environment of Paraguay recommends not having wild animals as pets, because they must live in their natural habitat, since only in that way the species can be conserved and protected.[2]  This public body only grants licenses in exceptional cases.

Wild animals have the right to live in freedom, in their natural habitat. By extracting them from nature, illegal wildlife trafficking is being encouraged.

Illegal wildlife trade is the threat that has a direct and irreversible impact on ecosystems and their biodiversity. This is demonstrated by the decline of species with high commercial value. By buying these animals from places or people who do not have the corresponding licenses or permissions, we are encouraging this practice. Because where the demand exists, there is supply.

A research carried out in Mexico by the environmental organizations Defenders of Wildlife and Teyeliz states that most of the wild birds are destined to the national market, due to the custom of many families to have parrots in their houses. Of the 22 species, 11 have been found to be at risk of extinction, and only two of every 10 that are captured, survive.[3]

There are regulations that empower the environmental public institutions to sanction these practices and others that have to do with violations of wildlife. In Paraguay the possession of wild animals as unauthorized pets is classified as a serious offense and the fines can reach to approximately 1349250USD.[4]

In Colombia, sanctions for those who hold copies of wild animals range from large fines to imprisonment for 3 to 7 years, without the possibility of paying bail, as provided by law.[5]

At the international level, in response to this illegal trade in flora and fauna, several countries signed the International Treaty on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

A lot of organizations are fighting against this issue as Born Free USA, WWF, ORGFAS Py[6], etc. You can also do something! Do not buy wild animals as pets. Share this information with those around you. Report abuse cases or animals living in deplorable conditions to the appropriate control agencies. And please, let them fly!

Taking care of nature is everyone’s duty…

[1]Get The Facts: The Dangers of Keeping Exotic “Pets”. Link: http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?p=187&more=1

[2]Official Secretary of Environment web page. Link: http://nwww.seam.gov.py/content/la-secretar%C3%ADa-del-ambiente-recomienda-no-tener-animales-silvestres-como-mascotas

[3] Enciso, Angélica; Méndez, Enrique. Article in Spanishcalled “Loros, en riesgo de extinción”. Link: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2007/04/19/index.php?section=sociedad&article=049n1soc

[4] Ídem 2

[5] Article in Spanish, called “TRÁFICO DE FAUNA, QUÉ ANIMAL!” Link: http://www.eltiempo.com/archivo/documento/MAM-598286

[6]NGO I’m currently working for. The NGO works for rescue, rehabilitation and reproduction of wild fauna and flora. We are in Paraguay, México and Argentina.




Antonella Méndez is an educator, environmentalist and agent of change. She holds a Bachelor Degree in International Trade and she is graduating this year (2017) with a Professional Law Degree at the National University of Asunción. She is Assistant Professor of Sociology of Law and she is member of the research committee at university.  She is host of a live TV program about analysis and debate of general interest topics.


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