, April 22, 2024

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Exotic Animals: Are They Allowed as Pets in the Philippines?

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Exotic Animals: Are They Allowed as Pets in the Philippines?
by Mariana Burgos

Keeping exotic animals as pets has continuously grown in popularity, as proven by in the previous several decades, there has been an increase in trade volume.

Snakes, pythons, geckos, salamanders, turtles, pangolins, insects, and even wildlife such as ostriches, tigers, and monkeys are examples of exotic pets. Unfortunately, some of these may be on the Philippines’ list of endangered or vulnerable species.

There is a large illegal market for exotic pets where there are no rules. While there are genuine dealers, there are also opportunistic merchants and poachers, many of whom are active on social media and are looking to make a fast cash.

The unlawful and/or unsustainable trade in exotic species to be maintained as pets has a global impact on the conservation of many species. This trade also raises issues about animal welfare and worsens the problem with the invasion of non-native animals and the transmission of new zoonotic illnesses.

An American Green Iguana on a tree. (Photo from Dreamstine royalty-free images)

In 2001, Republic Act No. 9147, often known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, was signed into law. According to the Official Gazette of the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, RA No. 9147 is a bill that established the required environmental policy to allow the Philippine government to manage and protect the country’s wildlife resources completely.

According to the Act, it provides for the conservation, preservation, and protection of wildlife species and their habitats in order to preserve and encourage ecological balance and biological diversity; it also provides for the control and supervision of wildlife capture, hunting, and trade; and it finally provides for the support and promotion of scientific research on biodiversity protection.

According to the provisions of this Act, it shall apply to all wildlife species, including those living in protected areas as defined by Republic Act No. 7586, National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act, as well as exotic species that could be traded, lived in captivity, bred in captivity, or propagated in the country. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will be in charge of all terrestrial plants and animals, turtles and tortoises, and wetland species, including crocodiles, waterbirds, amphibians, and dugong, while the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be in charge of all aquatic habitats deemed critical, all aquatic resources, including all fishes, aquatic plants, invertebrates, and all marine mammals, except dugong.

A young ball python resting on a human hand. (Photo from Dreamstine royalty-free images)

To sell exotic animals, pet retailers must get permission from the DENR. In addition, the business needs a Wildlife Farm Permit. The last thing you want is to discover that you purchased a lovely pet only to discover that it is on the endangered species list, placing you in violation of the law. The same requirements are expected of you, who plan to own these types of animals for your pet, whether you bought it, received it as a gift from someone, or saved it from an unexpected circumstance. You, the owner, have a duty to inform the DENR of your possession of such an animal and acquire the proper permits to, whether continue owning it or surrendering it to proper authorities.

Taking care of a pet is never simple. Even dog owners go to their breeders for advice and information on a variety of topics, including maintenance and upkeep, feeding and nutrition, pet product suppliers, veterinary treatment, and so on. The same is true for exotic pets, which require extremely specialized care. For example, their food, housing arrangements, and care may be highly particular. A reliable supplier will be able to provide you with direction and aid in these situations.

Axolotl amphibians in an aquarium. (Photo from Dreamstine royalty-free images)

Animals can become ill and even carry illnesses or bacteria/viruses that can be passed on to other pets or even humans. An opportunistic seller will not be interested in dealing with this since it involves money and a time and resource investment. Opportunistic dealers will just want to make quick cash, regardless of whether the exotic pet he gave you is sick, and neither you nor the seller is aware of it. This is also true for those who purchase dogs and cats from unscrupulous breeders who do not care if the animals they sell have been properly vaccinated and health examined.

Some of the most expensive pets on the market may really be endangered species. Poachers and purchasers may see these creatures as trophies or rewards, utterly unaware that they are breaching the law and contributing to the loss of biodiversity. Would you feel at ease knowing that you contributed to the loss of biodiversity, notably the extinction of a vulnerable species? Would you want to go that low, be that heartless and soulless for a ‘trophy’ for yourself?

A tarantula in an aquarium.” (Photo from Dreamstine royalty-free images)

Pets are not throwaway objects that may be exchanged or dumped when you have had enough of them. If you purchase one for yourself, you should be prepared for the pet’s upkeep requirements. If you are considering getting someone an exotic pet, you cannot assume that the recipient is prepared for it.

Exotic pets and domesticated pets may be extremely different in some aspects, yet they both demand the same level of responsibility, diligence, and education from their future owners.

About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist. She has been a solo parent for 16 years now because she is wife to a desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.

This article also appears in the Manila Standard

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