By Julia Hahn, Columnist
We all remember watching "The Lion King" as little kids or seeing wildcats on Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel. We remember being captivated by those majestic animals that had such power and beauty.
Over the past few decades humans have taken this fascination with wild cats to a dangerous level. People around the globe and in the United States especially, have taken these big cats, specifically lions and tigers, out of their natural habitat and put them in their own backyard. They don't give them to zoos or keep them to try and preserve any kind of species; they are simply keeping them as pets.
Does anyone else see the problem here? Tigers and lions above all else are wild animals, which means they are animals that are meant to be kept in their natural habitat. One of the most basic instincts for these animals is to kill and hunt. It is something that they need to do in order to survive in the wild, and this is not something that can be bred out of them simply because private owners think that the animal truly cares about them. Any kind of animal will develop some kind of affection for the purpose that brings them food, but one wrong move can be fatal.
The show "Fatal Attractions" on Animal Planet takes a closer look into the people who take wild animals into their homes. A woman in Louisiana kept a pet leopard for about three years before she went into its cage and turned her back and it completely scalped her. Animal Control had to be called and the leopard was shot in order to save the woman's life; it was all because the animal was just doing what it naturally does.
Another woman kept three pet tigers, but soon the financial burden began to become too much for her and she was forced to feed them road kill. The tigers became severely malnourished. One ended up attacking and killing her because of the situation it was in. Both of these incidents were when the animals simply acted on instinct and in the end paid the ultimate price for it. Not only is a keeping tiger in private ownership dangerous for the individual animal, it is also dangerous for the species as a whole.
The World Wildlife Fund released statistics that stated for every one tiger that exists in the wild, there are ten in captivity. This proves the fact that keeping animals in captivity really has no benefit. The only beneficial way to keep animals in captivity is to keep them in zoos. When animals are in zoos they are treated with the proper respect and surrounded by professionals who are trained to deal with wild animals. Any other option, such as private ownership or keeping an animal for performance, does nothing but hurt the animals involved. Tigers and other wildcats are beautiful animals, but they should stay in the wild for as long as they are able. We don't want these majestic animals to become extinct for our own selfish reasons.